Presentation Title

The Aesthetics of Liberty and Freedom: Labor in Mexican and Soviet Propaganda (1918-1938)

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

Watkins 1117

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Abstract

From 1918 to 1938, artists told similar labor narratives in the Soviet Union and Mexico with political graphics. The canvasses, posters, and photographs, whether they were in Spanish or Cyrillic, served as the armaments of the domestic battlefront. This study compares Mexican and Soviet labor propaganda in order to prove that revolutionary movement not only represented military battles like Zacatecas or Stalingrad, but also iconography of workers in the factories and the fields. In reviewing the art, the essay focuses on laborers, historical figures, setting, and gender. While American historians offer biased perspectives perpetuated by the Red Scare and Cold War, they provide valid points in that Marxism heavily influenced both countries. Rather than simply dismiss both countries as socialist, this essay applies Marxist rationale to the art history, trying to show how political graphics portrayed labor conditions. The essay builds on these observations showing the thematic socialist undertones from Mexico and the Soviet Union. Through an analysis of primary documents from artists such as Diego Rivera, Leopoldo Mendez, and Aleksi Gan, I contextualize the artists’ intentions and goals. Through an analysis of secondary sources, I demonstrate that these artists depict labor as central to their aesthetic in order to further nationalistic propaganda or, in some cases, to question the banality of nationalistic propaganda. From these sources, it is clear that the countries have similar labor propaganda but differ based on the specifics of their differing national identities.

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Nov 12th, 11:30 AM Nov 12th, 11:45 AM

The Aesthetics of Liberty and Freedom: Labor in Mexican and Soviet Propaganda (1918-1938)

Watkins 1117

From 1918 to 1938, artists told similar labor narratives in the Soviet Union and Mexico with political graphics. The canvasses, posters, and photographs, whether they were in Spanish or Cyrillic, served as the armaments of the domestic battlefront. This study compares Mexican and Soviet labor propaganda in order to prove that revolutionary movement not only represented military battles like Zacatecas or Stalingrad, but also iconography of workers in the factories and the fields. In reviewing the art, the essay focuses on laborers, historical figures, setting, and gender. While American historians offer biased perspectives perpetuated by the Red Scare and Cold War, they provide valid points in that Marxism heavily influenced both countries. Rather than simply dismiss both countries as socialist, this essay applies Marxist rationale to the art history, trying to show how political graphics portrayed labor conditions. The essay builds on these observations showing the thematic socialist undertones from Mexico and the Soviet Union. Through an analysis of primary documents from artists such as Diego Rivera, Leopoldo Mendez, and Aleksi Gan, I contextualize the artists’ intentions and goals. Through an analysis of secondary sources, I demonstrate that these artists depict labor as central to their aesthetic in order to further nationalistic propaganda or, in some cases, to question the banality of nationalistic propaganda. From these sources, it is clear that the countries have similar labor propaganda but differ based on the specifics of their differing national identities.