After the Mexican Revolution muralist artists sought to convey a nationalistic, social and political message, by painting large panoramic murals on public buildings, with the goal of reunifying the country under the new government. The form and style largely influenced by the Marxist and Socialist message of the post-revolution government continues in Mexican art to this day with commissioned public murals and references other artworks.
The Detroit Industry Murals (1933) by Diego Rivera were commissioned by Edsel Ford of the Ford Motor Company for in the Detroit Institute of Arts, it could be argued that the mural was commissioned in order to pacify political/ social unrest from Ford’s disgruntled workers, many of whom had been hit by the Great Depression. Once completed many american critics took issue with the mural describing it at ‘vulgar’, ‘un-american’ and ‘blasphemous’.
The municipalities of Belfast and Derry contain some of the most famous political murals in Europe, home to nearly 20,000 murals documented since the 1970s. These murals can be described as a mirror of political change, depicting the important historic as well as political developments in contemporary Irish history. They illustrated events pertaining to Irish Republicanism, such as the 1981 Irish prison hunger strike with emphasis on the strike leader Bobby Sands. Murals of international solidarity with revolutionary groups are equally common with artworks depicting the Ballymurphy Massacre and the McGurk’s Bar Bombing.
At 70 meters long and 50 centimeters tall, the Bayeux Tapestry is one of the largest embroidered cloth artworks in the world. The artwork depicts the events prior to the Norman conquest of England and the Battle of Hastings (1066) in which the Normans conquered the country.
In his series entitled The Vanity of Small Differences Perry illustrates the contemporary British fascination with taste and class. Inspired by the 18th century painter William Hogarth’s moral tale, A Rake’s Progress, Perry’s tapestries follow the life of a fictional character called Tim Rakewell, as he develops from infancy through his teenage and middle years, to his untimely death in a bloody car accident. Perry sought to capture the texture of the British zeitgeist through precise details of working, middle and upper class life. The composition of each tapestry also recalls early Renaissance religious painting, drawing us into an art historical, as well as a socio-political exploration.
Future World Systems Mural/ Tapestry
Historically, tapestry and muralism has been a form to depict and record past historical, political and social events. Perhaps we could inverse this and use the medium as an instrument to illustrate socio-political events of the future.