The Mexican Revolution had a significant effect on international culture. The series of social upheavals and conflicts we ascribe to the decade-long revolution, which began in 1910, had far-reaching social and political impact – with tragically more than 1.4 million casualties. However, the period that followed was for many one of tremendous possibility and change, resulting in widespread reform and leaps forward in industrialisation. Coinciding with the centenary of Mexico’s independence from Spain, the post-revolutionary or reconstruction period created many opportunities for artists, writers and political figures to galvanise previously fragmented states and communities to forge a coherent, authentic national identity that was modern and at the same time unique to Mexico.
Details of the revolution were scantily reported outside Mexico, yet reports in progressive publications attracted the attention of artists and writers. Interest in contemporary Mexican art and culture grew tremendously in the 1920s and 1930s, with leading cultural figures from Europe and North America making pilgrimages to Mexico to both participate in and to document the cultural flowering that followed the revolution.
The post-revolutionary period had a profound impact on photography. The medium was used in the service of both forging and witnessing a new Mexican identity and spirit. Mexico provided a unique experience of modern life; one that saw the local and the international, the traditional and the modern, the agrarian and the industrial come together in an entirely new way. For a number of photographers, the experience of post-revolutionary Mexico led to new ways of seeing the world, catalysing the development of a very particular and immensely influential modernist style.