On the occasion of the exhibition Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 - on view at the Royal Academy, London through September 29, 2013 -Alan Riding writes about the influence of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) on painting and art both within and outside of Mexico.
Riding notes that: "For many Americans and northern Europeans ... Mexico’s main appeal was its sheer exoticism, the sense that beneath a thin veneer of westernism lay a country profoundly different from anything they had ever known. Here was a land peopled overwhelmingly by mestizos (people of mixed descent) and Indians, with dozens of pre-Columbian languages still spoken, syncretic religious beliefs and rituals reinforcing fatalism, with the dead seemingly more revered than the living... Yet, for all the fascination that foreign artists felt for Mexico between 1910 and 1940, their influence on the country was minimal. Forever outsiders, they took away far more than they brought. They were welcome to observe, to admire, even to participate, but never to belong. Rather, it was left to Mexico’s muralists and other artists to capture a country that was looking back in the hope of moving forward."