Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 – Royal Academy of Arts

The other week I went to the Royal Academy to catch the exhibition Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 just before it closed. I’m glad I did – I didn’t know much about Mexico in the early 20th century (or Mexico at any other time, come to that), but I found it really interesting.

Revolution and regime change in Mexico inspired artists of all kinds who produced varied work including paintings, photographs, leaflets and woodcuts. Some of my favourite images were those inspired by the Day of the Dead, with grinning skulls and bright colours. I also liked the early 20th century pictures showing the revolution in action.

José Chávez Morado, ‘Carnaval en Huejotzingo’ (Carnival in Huejotzingo), 1939

Some of the images made a particularly strong impact: the photographers did not shy away from portraying the dark side of the revolution, with explicit shots of the dead and injured. While disturbing, these images really brought home the reality of the situation for the revolutionaries, and contrasted with the other images emphasising the positive side of Mexico.