Title page for ETD etd-05092001-130514

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Alvarez, Leticia
URN etd-05092001-130514
Title The Influence of the Mexican Muralists in the United States. From the New Deal to the Abstract Expressionism
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bixler, Jacqueline E. Committee Chair
Ulloa, Justo C. Committee Member
Van Hook, Bailey Committee Member
  • Mural Painting
  • WPA
  • Abstract Expressionism
Date of Defense 2001-04-26
Availability unrestricted
The Influence of the Mexican Muralists in the United States.

From the New Deal to the Abstract Expressionism

Leticia Alvarez


This thesis proposes to investigate the influence of the Mexican muralists in the United States, from the Depression to the Cold War. This thesis begins with the origins of the Mexican mural movement, which will provide the background to understand the artists’ ideologies and their relationship and conflicts with the Mexican government. Then, I will discuss the presence of Mexican artists in the United States, their repercussions, and the interaction between censorship and freedom of expression as well as the controversies that arose from their murals.

This thesis will explore the influence that the Mexican mural movement had in the United States in the creation of a government-sponsored program for the arts (The New Deal, Works Progress Administration). During the 1930s, sociological factors caused that not only the art, but also the political ideologies of the Mexican artists to spread across the United States. The Depression provided the environment for a public art of social content, as well as a context that allowed some American artists to accept and follow the Marxist ideologies of the Mexican artists. This influence of radical politics will be also described.

Later, I will examine the repercussions of the Mexican artists’ work on the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s. Finally I will also examine the iconography of certain murals by Mexican and American artists to appreciate the reaction of their audience, their acceptance among a circle of artists, and the historical context that allowed those murals to be created.

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