Mexican Art from the Bank of America Collection/National Museum of Mexican Art, Multimedia, Pilsen

Hector Duarte, mural in Naperville, 1998

Three special exhibitions are now running at the National Museum of Mexican Art (in addition to the regular collection). Many historic and contemporary artists are included, but it is especially interesting to find a lineage of three painters whose careers span the history of modern Mexican art.

The Bank of America Collection of paintings, photography, and prints includes a great gouache painting, “The Prisoner,” by Alfredo Ramos Martínez (1871-1946), who is sometimes called the father of modern Mexican painting.

That show also includes several lively lithographs by his famous student, the great muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). Across the hall, we find Hector Durarte (b. 1952), a Siqueiros student who is working right here in Chicago. Indeed, Duarte has been painting within the museum itself, designing a 150-foot mural that wraps around all four walls of a gallery.

It’s all a bit breath-taking—especially the Duarte mural that is as enjoyably decorative as a fine woven fabric, but does not fail to deliver an overwhelming emotional punch. Mexican art is so much about the immediacy of heartfelt love that it’s hard to imagine an art form more different from the irony, disgust, anger, alienation or cool aestheticism of the Anglo art worlds.

Through August 30 at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St.