In 1921, José Vasconcelos creates the Secretariat of Public Education. The population is mostly illiterate. Vasconcelos is developing the project to decorate public buildings with large murals promoting revolution and atheism as well as an egalitarian Mestizoism.
The participation of Vasconcelos in the government was short-lived but the best specificity of Mexican art in the twentieth century is a result of this initiative, not only through the social frescoes by Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros, but also with the surrealism by Kahlo and Carrington which benefited from this tendency to stylize for educating.
On November 24 in New York, Sotheby's sells a painting by Rivera, lot 23, consisting of four oils on canvas 1.52 m high aligned on panels for a total length approaching 9 m. This is the study for a fresco in mosaic executed circa 1955 for a private client.
Titled Rio Juchitan, this mural displays men, women and children in their daily lives at the edge of a river in south-eastern Mexico, with the innocence of the characters of Gauguin or of the art of Bali.
The painting is not exhibited in New York before sale and cannot be permanently exported from Mexico.