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Dr. Atl, Father of Mexican Muralism, Honored in Jalisco

Dr. Atl

The work of painter and writer Dr. Atl, considered to be the ideologue of Mexican Muralism and teacher of Diego Rivera, is the focus of the "Cosmic Rotation" exhibition in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death.

Dr. Atl, whose real name was Gerardo Murillo Cornado (1875-1964), is considered of great importance to 20th-century Mexico, not only for his artistic work that includes both the plastic arts and literature, but also for his political and social influence.

The exhibition, presented at the Cabañas Institute in Guadalajara, capital of Jalisco, is comprised of paintings, drawings, photos and documents from such Mexican organizations as the National Institute of Fine Arts, the Tlatelolco Cultural Center and the Alfredo Zalce Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as from private collections.

In 1897, on an ocean liner to Europe, he changed his name to "Atl," which in the Nahuatl language means water, and some time later his Argentine poet friend Leopoldo Lugones added the "Dr.," justified by the Mexican’s doctor of philosophy degree.

In Europe, he studied with Marxism theoretician Antonio Labriola, sociologist Emile Durkheim, and Henri Bergson, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927.

Winner of a silver medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris for a self-portrait, he was deeply influenced by the great artists of Fauvism and Impressionism. The innovative ideas acquired by this learning experience together with his rebellious character left a mark on the young painters who gathered around him at San Carlos Academy in Mexico City, where he was hired as an art restorer.

Among them were David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera.

His curiosity led him to create "Atl colors" a mixture of resin, wax and oil, and the aerial landscape, which consisted of capturing the image of a place from above.

It also led him to conceive what he called "Olinka" (a Nahuatl term for the place movement is created): a Utopia where artists, scientists, poets and philosophers from around the world would come together to plan human evolution, a project that never moved forward.

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