When walls became art

The Royal Academy showcases a vital era in 20th-century modernism in Mexico

By Tom Streithorst  

The schoolteacher sits primly on a chair, wearing a western suit that contrasts with his classic campesino features. On his lapel, the tricolour pin of the PRI, the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution, Mexico’s ruling party. The walls, that gorgeous blue plaster you see in Mexican rural homes, on the floor, a bone, which gives the painting its name, alluding to the bribe schoolteachers had to pay the party in order to…

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