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In the years following Nicaragua's 1979 Sandinista Revolution, more than three hundred murals were created by Nicaraguan and international artist brigades. David Kunzle was profoundly moved by the aesthetic and political power of these murals, and when he saw that they were being destroyed after the Sandinistas were voted out in 1990, he resolved to document them. This visually exciting, emotionally compelling book is the result of his efforts.
Today many of Nicaragua's murals have been obliterated, and Kunzle's book may be the only record of these works. Approximately eighty percent of the murals are reproduced here, many with extensive commentary. Artistic styles from the primitivist to the highly sophisticated are represented, showing themes of literacy, health, family, and always the Revolution.
Kunzle outlines the historical conditions in Nicaragua—including U.S. interference—that gave rise to the Revolution and to the murals. He chronicles the politically vindictive destruction of many of the best murals and the rise and fall of Managua's Mural School. Kunzle also refers to other Nicaraguan public media such as billboards and graffiti, the great mural precedent in Mexico, and the more recent attempts at socialist art in Cuba and Chile.
Nicaraguan murals became blackboards of the people, a forum for self-image, self-education, and popular autobiography. Kunzle pleads for the restoration of the surviving murals and for the revival of the mural movement, for it is, he says, "art that belongs to and benefits us all."