Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



Art History

First Advisor

Anna Indych-López

Second Advisor

Molly Aitken


Diego Rivera, corrido, muralism


On the top floor of Diego Rivera’s colossal mural cycle at the Ministry of Public Education, the artist painted a matte red banner with the lyrics of revolutionary ballads, known as corridos. Although there is a great amount of scholarship surrounding Rivera and his murals at the Ministry of Public Education, there is a gap in literature about the inclusion of the corrido banner and its significance. By building on the scholarship from art historians (Mary Coffey, Dafne Cruz Porchini, Anna Indych-López), historians and ethnomusicologists (Cati de los Ríos, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Jose Limón, Américo Paredes, Michael Denning), and scholars from other disciplines (Deborah Cartmell, Delia Fernández, Lisa Jarvinen), this paper provides an interdisciplinary analysis of a previously ignored feature of Rivera’s murals. Additionally, by turning to primary sources such as newspaper reviews, corrido lyrics, and texts written by the artist, this paper offers a close reading of the representation of the corrido in Rivera’s work.

Rooted in an iconographic methodology, this study examines the history of the corrido as a song form, as well as the aesthetic and historical influences of Rivera’s corrido banner, its function in serving a larger nationalist agenda, and its relationship to emerging sound technology at the time of its creation. This paper argues that Rivera’s representation of the corrido references Mexico’s revolutionary history, while also addressing the ways in which global forms of mass media, specifically sound and film technologies, influence his visualization of national identity. Lastly, it calls into question the utopianism of taking a song form that was historically used to speak to the illiterate and transforming it into written text.


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