A Spiritual Manifestation of Mexican Muralism: Works by Jean Charlot and Alfredo Ramos Martinez
thesisposted on 15.04.2014 by Amy K. Galpin
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A Spiritual Manifestation of Mexican Muralism Works by Jean Charlot and Alfredo Ramos Martínez Amy Galpin Department of Art History University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, Illinois (1986) Dissertation Chairperson: Dr. Hannah Higgins Alfredo Ramos Martínez and Jean Charlot were central figures in the development of Mexican modernism. Both lived in Mexico at a pivotal time when the violence of the Mexican Revolution waned, and the breadth of the Mexican mural movement expanded. Charlot came to Mexico from France and became involved with an avant-garde circle of artists. He was often consulted on matters of technique. Returning from Paris, Ramos-Martínez founded the first open-air school in Mexico and encouraged students to seek inspiration from the Mexican countryside. His approach to education affected many artists. Though both men demonstrated interest in presenting Mexican culture in their work, they struggled to make a place for themselves in the artistic community of Mexico City during the late 1920s. By 1930, both artists relocated to the United States, with Charlot living in New York and Ramos Martínez in Los Angeles. In the United States, Charlot and Ramos Martínez produced major bodies of works that presented indigenous cultures of Mexico, emphasized their Catholic faith, and affirmed their dedication to Mexican muralism. Through their extensive work, they distinguished themselves from many major muralists by embracing Catholicism. Charlot lived primarily in Hawai‘i after 1949, but traveled to the continental U.S. frequently, while Ramos Martínez lived in Los Angeles. They arrived in the U.S. at a pivotal moment in the modern history of Catholicism. Just as Mexico was censuring the role of the Church, the radical Dorothy Day and her supporters established the Catholic Worker movement in the United States. Charlot and Ramos Martínez created work that revealed their commitment to social justice, an approach tied to their faith. Both artists spent the remainders of their lives in the U.S. and enhanced the visual arts of the United States through their work that was a product of multiple cultural influences, including the Mexican mural movement and a liberal approach to society viewed through the lens of Catholicism.