20 Famous Mexican Painters – A Look At The Best Mexican Artists

famous mexican painters

Mexican art has a rich history filled with incredibly talented painters who have made an indelible mark on the global art scene. We will explore the lives and works of the 20 most famous artists and Mexican painters.

We will examine their unique artistic styles, their impact on future generations, and how they each contributed to Mexico’s vibrant cultural heritage. Join us on this journey through time as we uncover some of the greatest artists in Mexican art history that will leave you inspired by their remarkable storytelling through brushstrokes.

1. Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera

  • Birth year: 1886
  • Death year: 1957
  • City/Province of birth: Guanajuato, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Large-scale murals, social issues, Mexican culture
  • Notable artwork: Detroit Industry Murals

Not just another of the famous Mexican artists, Diego Rivera was undeniably the most famous Mexican painter of the 20th century, shaping the course of Mexican art by leaving a lasting impact on its cultural heritage. A vital founder of the Mexican Muralist Movement, Rivera’s contributions spanned over five decades, surviving the Mexican Revolution.

He was an immensely talented painter and a catalyst for change, leaving an indelible mark on Mexico’s artistic legacy. His wife, Frida Kahlo, was also famous, with both of them displaying their art at the National Museum.

2. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

  • Birth year: 1907
  • Death year: 1954
  • City/Province of birth: Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Self-portraits, symbolism, exploration of identity, gender, class, and race in Mexican society
  • Notable artwork: The Two Fridas

Frida Kahlo is one of the most famous Mexican painters and renowned for her deeply personal and striking self-portraits, one of the first Mexican woman to do them. Her iconic status in the art world has made many famous artists call her one of the most influential artists throughout history.

Kahlo’s uncompromising style sheds light on identity, gender roles, and the human body’s fragility. When she divorced her husband, Diego, her famous Mexican painting, The Two Fridas, expressed this. Her works often depict vivid colors while incorporating elements of Mexican folk art traditions, significantly contributing to Mexican art’s evolution.

While not initially well-known during her lifetime outside Mexico, Frida Kahlo’s global popularity has soared since then as more people appreciate the raw honesty contained within each piece she created.

3. José Clemente Orozco

José Clemente Orozco

  • Birth year: 1883
  • Death year: 1949
  • City/Province of birth: Ciudad Guzmán, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Murals, social realism, political themes
  • Notable artwork: The Epic of American Civilization

José Clemente Orozco, another famous Mexican painter, played a crucial role in shaping 20th-century art through his mastery of fresco painting. He captured Mexican history with powerful social commentary with inspiration.

Jose Clemente Orozco left an immense legacy as a muralist; he is considered one of Los Tres Grandes, along with Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. His murals can be found all over Mexico, including the National Museum in Mexico City, showcasing the beauty and hardship experienced by its people throughout various periods.

4. Rufino Tamayo

Rufino Tamayo

  • Birth year: 1899
  • Death year: 1991
  • City/Province of birth: Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Abstract art, pre-Columbian Mexican art, still life, and portraits
  • Notable artwork: Tres Personajes

Rufino Tamayo was a prominent Mexican painter known for his contemporary impressionist paintings and of Mexican culture. Born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico, Tamayo was contemporaneous with Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco – the “big” Mexican muralists.

Tamayo painted depictions of modern life that reflected social themes affecting Mexicans during his time. One aspect distinguishing Rufino Tamayo from other famous painters is that he drew inspiration from various religions and philosophies.

5. David Alfaro Siqueiros

David Alfaro Siqueiros

  • Birth year: 1896
  • Death year: 1974
  • City/Province of birth: Chihuahua, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Social realism, large-scale murals, political themes
  • Notable artwork: Del Porfirismo a la Revolucion

David Alfaro Siqueiros was a famous Mexican social realist painter known for his large public murals that tackled important issues and reflected his Marxist ideology.

He was one of the founders of the modern school of Mexican mural painting, alongside Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. His work was part of the more significant Mexican muralist movement.

Despite being an outspoken political activist who landed himself in prison several times due to his beliefs during the Mexican Revolution, David Alfaro Siqueiros left behind a lasting artistic legacy, including his famous painting for the National Museum in Mexico City.

6. María Izquierdo


  • Birth year: 1902
  • Death year: 1955
  • City/Province of birth: San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Surrealism, Mexican culture, folk art, and feminism
  • Notable artwork: Mujer en Rojo

María Izquierdo was a Mexican painter who played an essential role in the country’s art scene. Her artwork featured indigenous motifs and Mexican folk themes, which she gave new layers of meanings to reflect her cultural identity.

Many consider María Izquierdo one of the most famous female artists due to her contribution to Mexican art history and feminist icon. She broke barriers and challenged gender stereotypes despite facing significant obstacles throughout her career.

7. Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington

  • Birth year: 1917
  • Death year: 2011
  • City/Province of birth: Clayton-le-Woods, Lancashire, England (though she is often associated with Mexico)
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Surrealism, fantasy, symbolism, and occult themes
  • Notable artwork: The Pomps of the Subsoil

Leonora Carrington was a pioneering English painter and novelist who spent most of her life in Mexico City. She explored the surrealist movement with feminist themes, carving out a unique place for herself.

Carrington became an overnight sensation and became a most famous Mexican artist in 1947 after showcasing her artwork at a surrealist exhibition alongside other established artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. She also did a self portrait.

8. José Guadalupe Posada


  • Birth year: 1852
  • Death year: 1913
  • City/Province of birth: Aguascalientes, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Printmaking, political commentary, Day of the Dead imagery
  • Notable artwork: La Calavera Catrina

José Guadalupe Posada was a Mexican lithographer and illustrator. His work significantly influenced the development of 20th-century graphic art, with many artists and cartoonists from Latin America citing him as an inspiration.

Posada is best known for creating La Calaca Garbancera (The Dapper Skeleton), which spoke of the background of the Mexican Revolution. He is among the most famous Mexican artists for his sheets of calaveras (skeletons), still used today in popular rituals around Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

9. Gabriel Orozco

  • Birth year: 1962
  • City/Province of birth: Veracruz, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Conceptual and installation art, photography
  • Notable artwork: Black Kites

Gabriel Orozco is one of the most famous Mexican artists who has gained worldwide recognition for his exploration of drawing, photography, and sculpture. Born 1962 in Veracruz, he grew up in Mexico City amidst the cultural milieu linked to muralism, photography, and the political left.

His reputation as a famous Mexican artist emerged in the early 1990s when he exhibited works combining humor and social commentary. One example is “La DS,” where he reimagines Citroën’s iconic DS model by cutting it into thirds to create a new sculptural form.

10. Joaquín Clausell

  • Birth year: 1866
  • Death year: 1935
  • City/Province of birth: Campeche, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Impressionism, landscapes, seascapes
  • Notable artwork: El Castillo de Chapultepec

Joaquín Clausell was a Mexican lawyer and political activist who gained fame as one of Mexico’s most prominent Impressionist artists. He is widely recognized as one of the precursors to modern art in Mexico, having significantly impacted the country’s own artistic aesthetic landscape.

Clausell’s influence on Mexican art history cannot be overstated. The painter pioneered Impressionism in Mexico, initially met with skepticism from Mexican art critics but later became popular among local audiences.

11. Remedios Varo

Remedios Varo

  • Birth year: 1908
  • Death year: 1963
  • City/Province of birth: Anglés, Spain (but she is closely associated with Mexico)
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Surrealism, fantasy, mystical and symbolic themes
  • Notable artwork: Creation of the Birds

Remedios Varo is considered one of the most famous Mexican artists in the Mexican Surrealist movement, even though she was not a Mexican woman. Born in Spain, she spent most of her adulthood as a political refugee. After that, she lived in Mexico City, where she was involved in various jobs, such as hand-painting furniture and restoring pre-Columbian artifacts.

Remedios Varo’s work combines the surrealist style with feminine themes with magical realism to create an otherworldly atmosphere that speaks to female empowerment. She drew inspiration from her life experience and her interest in esoteric symbols and mythology.

12. Fanny Rabel

  • Birth year: 1922
  • Death year: 2008
  • City/Province of birth: Poland (but she is closely associated with Mexico)
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Murals, social realism, political and feminist themes
  • Notable artwork: La Mujer y su Lucha

Fanny Rabel was a prominent name in the Mexican art scene as she was considered the first modern female muralist in Mexico. However, her prowess extended beyond murals and into various art forms such as oil painting, engraving, drawing, and ceramics.

Rabel’s unique artistic style was heavily influenced by her teacher Frida Kahlo, whom she admired deeply. She imitated Kahlo in many of her artworks, which garnered widespread attention across Mexico.

13. Dr. Atl

Dr. Atl

  • Birth year: 1875
  • Death year: 1964
  • City/Province of birth: Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Landscape painting, mainly volcanoes, murals
  • Notable artwork: Paricutín Volcano Series

Dr. Atl was a prominent Mexican painter and writer who played an essential role in the cultural landscape of Mexico. Born Gerardo Murillo, he studied in Rome, Peru, and Mexico City and became an active participant in the Mexican Revolution.

In addition to his focus on landscapes, Dr. Atl painted portraits throughout his career. He was particularly interested in exploring Mexico’s customs, traditions, and history through his art, making him an important figure within Mexican culture.

14. Gilberto Aceves Navarro

Gilberto Aceves Navarro

  • Birth year: 1931
  • Death year: 2019
  • City/Province of birth: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Abstract art, murals, and vibrant color
  • Notable artwork: 1313 Ruta de la Amistad México 68

Gilberto Aceves Navarro was known for his flamboyant style, reconciling Mexican influences with contemporary art. Navarro’s work includes Poema Floral, an oil mural painted for the Mexican Pavilion at Hemisfair in San Antonio, Texas.

Aside from creating art, Gilberto Aceves Navarro also served as a professor at the Escuela Nacional de Artes in Mexico City.

15. Gunther Gerzso

  • Birth year: 1915
  • Death year: 2000
  • City/Province of birth: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Abstract art, influenced by pre-Columbian art
  • Notable artwork: Green Anguish

Gunther Gerzso was a Mexican painter, designer, and director who became one of the key representatives of Mexican abstract painting in the 1970s. He considered himself a self-taught artist and is widely regarded as the best abstract painter that Mexico has ever produced.

Gerzso’s work was characterized by its playful use of color and geometric shapes. His artistic representation was part of an ongoing effort to create new forms that were distinctly Mexican yet universal in appeal.

16. Miguel Covarrubias

Miguel Covarrubias

  • Birth year: 1904
  • Death year: 1957
  • City/Province of birth: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Caricatures, ethnography, illustrations
  • Notable artwork: The Impossible Dream

Miguel Covarrubias was a Mexican painter, writer, and anthropologist. In addition, he had an impressive repertoire of talents, including being a caricaturist, set designer, book illustrator, cartographer, and art historian.

His work has been included in group exhibitions of Mexican art from the first half of the 20th century, but he also had solo shows which showcased his unique style as an artist. He became a famous Mexican artist for combining different fields within one artwork to give voice to several themes.

17. Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett

  • Birth year: 1915
  • Death year: 2012
  • City/Province of birth: Washington, D.C., United States (but she is closely associated with Mexico)
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Sculpture and prints, African American and Mexican themes, feminism
  • Notable artwork: Sharecropper

Elizabeth Catlett was an American and Mexican artist famous for her sculptures and prints emphasizing African American women. She made a name for herself in Mexico through the Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP), a well-known workshop dedicated to graphic design located in Mexico City.

Catlett’s art is centered around the Black female experience, where she focuses on developing compositions with multiple figures that demonstrate solidarity and community among marginalized groups. She uses mediums like lithographs, linoleum cuts, and sculpture.

18. Julio Galán

  • Birth year: 1959
  • Death year: 2006
  • City/Province of birth: Muzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Neo-expressionism, self-portraits, Mexican culture
  • Notable artwork: Self-portrait with Monkey

Julio Galán was a Mexican artist and architect who became one of Latin America’s neo-expressionist painters. Galán’s work often featured strong colors and bold lines suggestive of memories or imaginary spaces that challenged viewers’ perceptions.

Despite his untimely death at the early age of 47, Julio Galán will always be remembered for his significant contribution to contemporary painting as one of its most innovative artists.

19. Rodolfo Morales

Rodolfo Morales

  • Birth year: 1925
  • Death year: 2001
  • City/Province of birth: Ocotlán, Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Surrealism, village life in Oaxaca
  • Notable artwork: Mujeres en el Pueblo

Rodolfo Morales was a famous Mexican painter known for his vivid and colorful artwork that depicted the beauty of Mexican village life and traditional Mexican culture. He is one of the most significant artists from the Oaxacan region.

One of Morales’ main focuses was depicting sacred festivals and town celebrations rather than civic ones. He produced works featuring vibrant market scenes with people wearing traditional clothing or participating in community activities like farming or dancing.

20. Francisco Toledo

Francisco Toledo

  • Birth year: 1940
  • Death year: 2019
  • City/Province of birth: Juchitán, Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Painting, sculpture, ceramics, tapestry, and graphics
  • Notable artwork: La Batalla de Pajuayán

Francisco Toledo is considered one of the contemporary famous Mexican artists, and his legacy in fine arts has impacted Mexican culture. Known as “El Maestro,” he was regarded as one of the most before passing away.

Toledo was a Mexican Zapotec painter, sculptor, and graphic artist who incorporated a magical world realism and passionate rebellion into his art. His work often touched on death, religion, politics, and indigenous culture.