As many Mexican Americans and Latinos celebrate Cinco de Mayo today I’ve been thinking about the rich artistic legacy Mexico has produced including the artists Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jan Soriano, and Rufino Tamayo.
Many non-Mexican artists have also been deeply inspired by their visits to Mexico with its rich and varied landscapes that offer a wealth of source material. Spanish-American artist Julio de Diego (1900-1979) is one of my favorite examples. In the summer of 1945 de Diego visited Mexico, taking his first flight in an airplane. Today flying is something most of us have experienced and take for granted. In 1945 airplane travel was something the majority of the world could only dream about, and most had never experienced. De Diego was so inspired by his first flight that he produced a series of paintings which were later reproduced in the 1946 May issue of Life Magazine. These works were known as the Altitude Series. De Diego mentions how air travel allowed him to discover a new form of landscape, and to put these inspired fantasies on canvas.