The Mexican Muralists have been taken as virtually the sole artistic advoca
tes of the Mexican Revolution, often to the neglect of the rich cultural dy
namic of which they were an integral part. But in fact, the struggle to art
iculate a revolutionary cultural identity in a society so heavily defined b
y its colonialist history produced (and continues to do so) a widely varied
set of responses to issue of Mexicanidad. The work and life of Maria Izqui
erdo provide us with one such response. Izquierdo began her career under th
e patronage of Diego Rivera, but soon allied herself with an avant-garde gr
oup in opposition to the Muralists, the Contemporaneos, who challenged the
latter on a number of levels. They proffered the work of Izquierdo in oppos
ition to the Muralists as a representative of cultural nationalism 'beyond'
politics and closer to the 'purity' of indigenous culture. The Contemporan
eos' criticism of the Muralists also held a critique of the use of male dom
inance and power as a structural framework for defining national identity.
Izquierdo's paintings offer insight into how the painter's status as female
proved crucial, as it intertwined with discourses on class and race, to th
e construction of a nationalist discourse meant to undermine the Muralists'
public image as socialist champions of Mexican workers and peasants.