Concurrently with modern architecture, the new trends in modern painting appeared in Latin America during the 1920's. The reaction against the academic tradition of the 19th century took the strongest nationalistic form in Mexico and, to a lesser degree, in the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. In countries such as Brazil and Cuba, where there is a considerable Negro element in the population, much modern painting until recently expressed popular themes and traditions according to modern European schools. In most other countries, modern painting has never shown strong local influences but is essentially a reflection of European and sometimes North American tendencies. Since 1950, the acceptance of abstract art by most young Latin American painters has had the effect of minimizing local native influences and of integrating Latin American painting with contemporary international schools.
In the field of art, Mexico has been the most active of the Latin American countries. Mexican painters are the only ones who have created a truly original style of painting which has influenced the art of many countries in the Western hemisphere.
Although native art had been largely destroyed during the conquest, Indian creativeness survived in the work of village craftsmen. The plastic forms of simple grandeur, the stylistic designs, the bright colors lived on in the shadow of colonial art. At the end of the 19th century, a few isolated artists were still working independently, producing a self-taught art and disregarding the official norms. One such artist was José Guadalupe Posada, an engraver and illustrator of popular songs, whose shop was near the San Carlos Academy. His work had such a strong influence on the young painters, particularly Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, that Posada has been called the father of the Mexican school of painting.
However, the development of the new school of painting was really brought about by the revolution of 1910-1917. Many young painters, intellectuals and writers, influenced by the revolutionary ideas of Gerardo Murillo, an artist who hated his Spanish origins so much that he took the Aztec name of Dr. Atl (Water), joined the revolution and took an active part in it. Out of their revolutionary ideas, a new conception of art was loudly proclaimed: art belongs to the people, just as Mexico belongs to the Indian people. David Alfaro Siqueiros, the most violent of the revolutionary artists, demanded "a new revolutionary art based on the constructive vitality of Indian art and decrying outworn European ideas."
Inspired by Siqueiros, and under the leadership of Diego Rivera, the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors was founded in 1922. In one of their manifestos, the members of the Syndicate declared that "not only honorable labor but the smallest expression of the physical and spiritual life of our race springs from the native, with his admirable and extraordinary peculiar gift of creating beauty. The art of