The History of Mexico Told Through Art with Natalia Zerbato

The History of Mexico Told Through Art with Natalia Zerbato


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Inspired by the book “Mexicanos pintados por si mismos” (Mexicans painted by themselves), a classic from 19th century, this seminar will resume all the story of Mexico divided by 5 parts: pre-Hispanic, viceroyalty, 19th and 20th century and ‘nowadays’ using arts – principally painting – to illustrate the principle facts of these periods of time.

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the story of Mexico carries a lot of mysteries. The origins of its population can be found from more than 30,000 years before Christ and have been told by big empires that left their story in stone, pyramids, and painting. We’ll discuss how, even with very few examples that resisted time and, later, the anger of the catholic church, the walls of Mexican Mesoamerica left for the information of the future generation about their society.

We’ll move onto the arrival of the Spanish and how they destroyed what was considered “a devil’s work” – principally the art - but also brought a new concept. The challenge was to teach Mexicans to paint as Europeans as well as convincing European artists to come to a new land and paint the message of the Bible. We’ll learn how the baroque style became the most characteristic one for the 300 years that Spain dominated Mexico before its independence.

Carrying the image of Virgen de Guadalupe, the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla wanted Mexico to be independent of European clutches, but not from the catholic beliefs. At the end of the 19th century, with the arrival of foreign artists, the landscape became a way to be proud of the land, followed by travelers and locals. We’ll move onto the Mexican Revolution and how this stopped the possibility of being a painter for around 10 years with fighting and flight from Mexico. After the revolution, these artists received the walls of the most important buildings in the country – mostly in Mexico City – to paint their version of the story through muralism. We’ll discuss this movement in relative depth, from the narrative to the techniques used before finishing up learning about contemporary art in Mexico today, both powerful and complex in its messaging.

Natalia is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but chose Mexico as her home and her field of research. From Brazil, she moved to Mexico City in 2014 with a degree in Fashion after finishing her research about Frida Kahlo’s clothes. Now, 6 years later, apart from being an expert guide, she is pursuing an MA in History of Arts at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where she is studying the clothing and style of Georgia O'Keefe's, and comparing them with Kahlo's.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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