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Orozco was another of the “Big Three” muralists of the Mexican Mural Movement. Unlike the other two (David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera) Orozco’s work evolved greatly over the span of his lifetime, reflecting significant changes in style as well as in Orozco’s political beliefs.

Orozco’s first government mural Maternity for the National Preparatory School in Mexico City was a traditional, Renaissance-style fresco depicting a fair-skinned woman and child surrounded by angels. This non-controversial image of the standard set of ideals was quickly left behind, however, as Orozco moved on to more envelope-pushing material.

Orozco’s growing disillusionment with the Mexican revolution was made very clear in his new murals (1923-6), showing peasants as in-fighting peons, lost in their struggle and left in a world no better than the one they’d seen before the revolution. The mural Revolutionary Trinity showed a crew of three figures, one lost in prayer, one blinded by a Jacobin hat meant to symbolize the revolution, and one kneeling helplessly with its hands severed from its wrists. The Family depicted an impoverished and disheartened family looking on at the ruins of a fallen city. The Trench cast three fallen figures lying prone on a rifle that jut diagonally into the space of the mural as an eerie contrast against the standard pictures of glorious heroes, courageously fallen in the name of the cause. The soft, curving figures of his early murals gave way to highly angular compositions intended to jar the viewer.

These new murals were so poorly received that Orozco lost his commission and disappeared briefly from the Mexican mural scene. He reemerged several years later with a series of murals staged at Dartmouth college (1932). In pure Orozco-style defiance, a number of these murals deplored the American education system, showing it as a skeletal mother giving birth to a stillborn, skeletal fetus at the hands of a ghoulish group of figures in the robes of academics (American Civilization – The Gods of the Modern World).

Orozco eventually returned to Mexico (1940) where he continued to make irreverent and moving political statements in his work up until his death in 1949.

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