When we talk about famous people from Mexico, two names instinctively pop up in mind, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
It’s inevitable to have these Renaissance artists come to mind, as their contribution to the country’s art was commendable.
We must thank them, not only for their creations but also for the establishment of a platform to let aspiring painters showcase their works.
As we talk about famous Mexican artists, we must also value those who equally participated in the development of the country’s art and culture, and disseminated Mexican art to Latin America and Europe.
Read on to learn more about the renowned Mexican painters who created some of the most expensive paintings ever created, as well as how they incorporated the city’s cultural history, traditional customs, and religious elements into their works of art.
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13. Julio Galan
Julio Galan was a famous artist from Mexico who had a fruitful career in painting and architecture.
Though his journey into Mexican culture and art was short, he produced five stunning Mexican paintings that left a lasting impact on today’s painters.
The first of the Neo-expressionist painters, Julio, painted famous Mexican art like You Didn’t Take Me Into Account (1995), Restaurante Residence (1995), and Sin Titulo (1998).
Heavily influenced by Sigmar Polke, Robert Mapplethorpe, and other famous painters, Julio was fascinated by their work, which consisted of elements of native American culture.
The famous Mexican was from a well to do family, which provided him easy access to ancient Mexican traditions and art.
For several years, he worked in town, where he learned art. However, his good days began when he moved to New York and later started to exhibit his work in different parts of America.
Mexican artist Julio made it to prominent exhibitions like the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art and lived a rewarding life until the age of 47.
12. Sergio Bustamante
Sergio Bustamante was the most underrated Mexican painter and a famous Hispanic sculptor.
Having his origins in China, the painter renamed himself and became Sergio for good.
At a very young age, he lost his parents, which resulted in him living the majority of his life with his grandfather.
Sergio was inclined towards architecture from his teenage, though he learned it very late.
Unarguably, he was a versatile Mexican painter and was well-known for his detailed and astounding sculptures.
As time went on, his passion for art drew him to Amsterdam for future opportunities. However, it didn’t go well for him, and he ended up coming back to his city.
His hard times peaked, and in order to overcome them, he built himself a studio that changed the trajectory of his professional life.
Later, he produced the finest pieces of Mexican sculpture and artwork that depicted humans with fish heads, women in large dresses, and a man on the moon.
(Also Read: Rothko’s No. 61: Rust & Blue)
11. Fanny Rabel
Fanny Rabel was one of the most famous Mexican artists (female) and a beloved student of Frida Kahlo.
She largely imitated the style from the paintings of Frida Kahlo depicting subjects that were common in her work.
The female Mexican painter’s painting would evoke loss, disparity, and destruction.
Fanny also worked as an assistant and apprentice to Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who aided and inspired her to create mural art.
The well-known Mexican muralist Fanny also made significant contributions in painting, engraving, drawing, and ceramic sculpture.
She was in fact the only female Mexican painter to be a part of “Los Fridos,” a student union run by her mentor and famous female artist, Frida Kahlo.
Fanny, who came from a well to do family, always remained grounded and passionate about her work.
Her life, her art, and her passion progressed positively when she moved to Europe in 1938.
She completed her formal education in art at La Esmeralda, where she met Frida Kahlo, whom she idolized.
As time went on, she worked with a handful of established and cubist artists, who helped shape her style and vision, which led to her becoming the first Mexican artist of her generation to work with ecological themes.
The Mexican painter of the 20th century, Fanny, produced countless works, and some of them even made it to top exhibitions and art galleries.
Though she belonged to a well to do Mexican family, her areas of interest were ecological issues. Through art, she expressed herself, which highlighted the harmful effects of pollution, traffic, and garbage.
10. Joaquin Clausell
Joaquin Clausell was one of the most famous Mexican impressionist artists and a talented landscape painter.
The producer of over 400 pieces of Mexican art, Joaquin, was rebellious at one point in time. He was actually a strong critic of back-then Mexican governor, whom he confronted publicly.
As a result, he had to flee from the city and make his life in a whole new place .
Famous Mexican impressionist painter Joaquin made his way to a law school despite all the odds, yet he continued opposing political figures that landed him behind bars.
As time went on, things began working in his favor, and he became a journalist and a political figure. As the years progressed, his interest in art grew dramatically, especially seascape and landscape paintings.
Abandoning his current profession, Joaquin became serious about art and began pursuing knowledge of Mexican art movements and ideas.
(Fact: Mexican painter’s artwork would typically display impressionist style and intricacies, although he wouldn’t accept the fact.)
As time went on, his works gained recognition and fame.
In 1921, at an art exhibition, one of the Mexican painters’ works grabbed the modern art painter Diego Rivera’s attention.
His work was so detailed and well-produced that Diego proclaimed him to be the best of Mexico’s landscape artists.
Self taught-genius Joaquin never considered himself a professional painter, despite his work being displayed at famous Mexican art exhibitions and shows.
A Mexican painter who began his professional career in law died at the age of 69 in a landslide.
9. Gabriel Orozco
Frida and Diego’s contributions changed the course of Mexican art history. But Gabriel’s works constructed several tangents and kept inspiring Mexican artists of the 21st century.
Mexican artist/painter Gabriel, who used to live a nomadic life, created masterpieces like The Crazy Tourist, Home Run, and Samurai Tree Paintings that garnered love and attention across the globe.
The credit for these magnificent works goes to his father, as he was his first inspiration, and was also a mural painter by profession.
Gabriel Orozco, a traveling artist in Mexico, tends to incorporate elements and subjects that he observes and sees in his daily journey.
Not only that, the creator of several of the finest contemporary paintings, Gabriel Orozco, still believes in individual effort rather than teamwork.
His ideology is to produce artwork, inspired by external sources, mainly various landscapes, cultures, and traditions.
The famous Mexican painter is still taking on commissioned work, and has no plans of retiring.
Out of several works of Mexican art, the most famous work by this Mexican artist is Black Kites, which is owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
8. David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros was one of the well-known artists from Mexico whose art was rooted in the Surrealism art movement and ideas.
He was a man of action who was also a key member of one of Mexico’s art institutes.
As a Mexican artist, he had to face several disagreements and criticisms because of his views, which were inclined towards the left-wing.
Not only that, his own family would criticize him for his work because of the inclusion of triggering elements, which in most scenarios led him to prison.
For a large chunk of the audience, his art was meaningful, influential, and subtle. Whereas the views from the other side of the audience were quite harsh, as they perceived the Mexican artist’s works as misleading and derogatory.
The Mexican painter’s primary focus was always on mural art, but there was a time when his interest switched to painting, which had a base of abstraction of art.
As a result, his belief system changed, and he began considering art as an expression of ideas and an element of education.
The Mexican artist, Siqueiros, didn’t limit himself, and kept producing artworks that are highly intense yet political, which made a long lasting impression.
Produced several controversial artworks, out of which these three pieces of art, The Elements (1922), Portrait of the Bourgeoisie (1939), and New Democracy (1945). stole the thunder.
7. María Izquierdo
Maria Izquierdo was the first female Mexican artist whose work was displayed in museums in the United States.
Unlike Frida and Carrington, she never had a cult-following. However, her contribution to Mexican art was remarkable and inspiring.
Though Mexican art was vast and enriching, the city was largely patriarchal. Despite all the odds, she thrived as a painter and produced artworks that later became study material for other aspiring female Mexican painters.
In the 1920s, when she moved to Mexico City, she saw a couple of artists, and one whose works she became a fan of was Diego Rivera, who later became a pivotal figure in her career.
In record time, she became his favorite student but didn’t stay at the institute due to the negative and discouraging environment.
Later, the Mexican painter began working with a couple of artists who were associated with the Movimiento Pro-Arte Mexicano and shared a professional relationship with her.
Not only were they her colleagues but also collaborators who had similar thoughts on Mexican art culture.
Maria, who had left the Academy of Fine Arts, remained in touch with an instructor, Rufino Tamayo, who also served as her mentor.
Along with Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo’s impact on the Mexican painter’s life was profound and huge.
As time went on, she became the cultural ambassador of Mexico and began traveling to South America as part of her endeavors.
The artworks the Mexican artist created would display the images and scenes she had seen while touring southern countries.
The Mexican artist’s paintings were either still life art or portraits that held deeper meaning and message.
6. José Clemente Orozco
Jose Clemente Orozco was Mexico’s famous artist who created the world famous mural art “The Epic of American Civilization”.
Famous Mexican mural artist Jose Clemente Orozco, was never passionate about painting until he was 21, when he lost his left hand while making fireworks.
Jose wanted to become an architect, though it remained a dream as he left education after the loss of his left hand.
His passion shifted to art, and at that point he was the father of three children.
The Mexican artist, Jose Orozco, passion escalated as he was driven by Jose Guadalupe Posada’s engravings, which were about Mexican culture and politics.
Jose was fortunate enough to have some established Mexican artists around him, but that didn’t completely help him become the greatest Mexican artist of all time.
He took up various projects, made several caricatures, and even worked as an illustrator for a Mexico City newspaper.
For the next couple of years, the Mexican artist produced different sets of art that were well received by audiences and Mexican art folk.
In July 1923, he began working on his first mural, which was a reflection of his views on the aftereffects of war.
He collaborated with many like-minded Mexican artists, such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Later, they became important Mexican artists who were responsible for escalating mural art in the city.
Not only was his art famous in Mexico, but it was also prominent in other parts of the world.
5. Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington was one of the most famous artists in Mexico and has a cult following.
After Frida Kahlo, one female Mexican name that was always in the limelight was Leonora, a Surrealist painter.
Like Frida, her artwork would also display negative aspects of her own life. However, the Mexican artist’s portraits were slightly different and more intense.
Leonora’s failed relationship with Max Ernst had a lasting impact on her professional career. Their love lives were becoming more bitter with each passing day, though they supported each other in their artistic endeavors.
Both of them even created sculptures of guardian animals, which they used as their home decor. Apart from that, they created each other’s portraits, displaying various elements of a relationship.
However, each passing day made their relationship ugly and toxic, and their separation led her to an asylum.
Despite hitting rock-bottom, the Mexican painter didn’t give up and continued to produce artworks that were quite intense and heart-wrenching in their manner.
The Mexican Surrealist painter, Leonora, would pay more attention to magical realism than writings of Sigmund Freud.
Despite having contrary views to other Surrealist artists, she was able to make world-class Surrealist paintings that were about breaking stereotypes.
Her works were eye-opening, inspiring, and bold, as it was a period where women were often seen as a subject of ridicule.
4. Dr. Atl
The original name of Dr. Atl was Gerardo Murillo Coronado, who was known for pioneering patriotic art in Mexico.
An active member of the Mexican Revolution, Dr. Atl began his professional journey in his teenage.
Speaking of his personal life, the artist was baptized in 1902, renaming himself Dr. Atl, who once belonged to a mixed indigenous and Spanish family.
Art was his childhood love, but he aced it when he had a close interaction with renowned painters like Diego Rivera, Francisco de la Torre, and Rafael Ponce de León in an art exhibition.
Following the event, many projects and commissioned works came his way that brought fortune to his life.
As time went on, he developed a love for outdoor scenery and began painting landscapes.
Fascinated by external subjects, Dr. Atl drew different kinds of landscapes, such as nature, volcanic, and others.
Dr. Atl wasn’t just a famous abstract artist but also a writer and winner of prestigious literature awards.
Speaking of Mexican art history, Dr. Atl was remembered for his artworks that showed his immense love for indigenous culture.
Climactic Eruption, Valle de Pihuamo, and Nahui Olin are among his best-known works.
3. Rufino Tamayo
Rufino Tamay was a mentor to countless artists, including some of the most popular Mexican artists mentioned in this list itself.
Rufino’s professional career was rewarding and impressive, as he was the creator of over 1300 paintings.
He was one of a very few Mexican artists who hit this milestone and lived a long life with dignity and fame.
People from Latin America and Europe remember the Mexican artist for his versatility, as he was proficient in creating murals, drawings, lithography, and even glass painting art.
His Mexican art pieces often depicted aspects of indigenous culture and traditions. Whereas some of Rufino’s art was more symbolic, semi-abstract, and modern art.
Prolific Mexican painter, Rufino, also enjoyed creating nude paintings that later disappeared due to criticism and disagreements.
Out of a handful of subjects and elements, he’d love to have his wife painted on Mexican art canvases.
Rufin, throughout his journey, taught several people, and the one who became the most successful in the art world was Maria Izquierdo.
2. Diego Rivera
Mexican art history is incomplete without Diego Rivera, a leading artist during the Mexican movement.
Not only was he a prolific painter in cubism, but he was also the biggest contributor to impressionism and post-impressionism.
The mural movement was primarily backed by Diego Rivera and he was responsible for its establishment in the city and across the globe.
Diego’s beliefs were inclined toward Marxism, because of which he faced opposition from countless right-wing people.
However, there were segments of people who realized the intention behind his ideology and supported and encouraged him in his artistic career.
Rivera’s contribution to Mexico’s art was immeasurable and undoubtedly commendable..
Despite starting to draw at the age of three, Diego Rivera took years to carve a niche for himself.
He practiced every art that came his way. However, he found his true passion when he studied Renaissance frescoes of Italy and later made a meaningful yet controversial mural called Edsel Ford.
Apart from that, Diego Rivera’s works like The Hands of Nature, The Flower Carrier, and The Man at the Crossroad also hold special status in Mexican art history.
1. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo, a rare talent that this world was gifted with, was unarguably one of the most famous Mexican expressionist artists.
Frida’s life was full of ups and downs, as she had gone through several health complications.
At the age of 18, she met with a bus accident, which changed the future of this Mexican artist.
Multiple fractures and injuries made her vulnerable, and she spent the next few months in rehabilitation.
Frida was a fighter and avid art lover who bounced back and began working as an apprentice under a couple of artists.
Being an apprentice wasn’t a novel thing, as she had experience working as a paid engraving apprentice for Fernandez (before the bus accident).
As she moved to Morelos and later the United States, she met several artists and produced timeless pieces of art. The Mexican painter Frida Kahlo spent her next six months in San Francisco, which were quite productive and rewarding phases of her professional career.
The progressing instability between her and her husband, Diego Rivera, resulted in her deteriorating health. In the coming years, she parted ways with Rivera , though they continued to support each other in their professional journey.
The talented Mexican female painter had gone through a rough patch because of hatred and criticism from the same profession.
Although her works were mostly about herself, her family members, and friends, she openly opposed the capitalist nature of the United States.
During that period, she experienced vast losses, perhaps due to the aftermath of World War II.
She was on the verge of bankruptcy despite having her art, “The Frame,” purchased by the Louvre Museum.
Years later, she spent time with artists from other art movements, and her works garnered unimaginable attention, which resulted in the rise of her fan following in the United States.
The queen of Bohemia, Frida, had a tragic life, which is why her artwork was quite intense and detailed.
Frida was a famous household name in Mexico.
Her works gained popularity, and the worth of some continued to grow even after the demise of the Mexican painter.
(Fact: The world’s most visited museum, the Louvre houses several famous paintings by Frida Kahlo; one of them is “The Frame, which is worth millions of dollars. From France, it was the Louvre, and from New York, it’s Sotheby’s, an art museum that currently owns Frida’s “Diego y yo,” worth $34.9 million.)
In Mexico, one would find a plethora of talented artists, and here’s a list of famous Mexican painters who dedicated their lives to expanding their city’s culture across the world.
From landscape to still life art, every painting that was ever produced by these famous Mexican artists displayed the positive and negative sides of the city.
Even though the art was about one’s personal life, it still had a touch of something related to Mexico, be it their time spent in the city or the experience they had touring Mexico City.
Mexican art was vast and rich, and one can surely resonate with the works crafted by Mexican artists mentioned above.
Some people knew that Frida and Diego changed the future of Mexican art history. However, there were other painters who equally participated in these endeavors and introduced city art to other aspiring artists.
Thank you for reading this article about artists from Mexico all the way to the end.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Gabriel Orozco was one of the most famous Mexican painters after Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Sergio Bustamante was the most prolific and underrated Mexican artist who witnessed fame and money at a later stage of his life.
Fanny Rabel was a student of Frida Kahlo who also indulged in imitating her style for the longest time.
David Alfaro Siqueiros was the famous Mexican Surrealist painter.
María Izquierdo was the female Mexican artist who would produce still life art with deeper meaning and message.
José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros were responsible for escalating mural art in the city.