Mexican calendar art grew in popularity in post- Revolution Mexico around the 1930s for commercial advertising purposes and were often freely distributed providing a source of free art in the home. Art historian Carlos Monsivais has identified popular Mexican icons that represented Mexican life and culture, national identity, celebrations, customs and traditions that were painted by key Mexican artists. Some of the iconography includes the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico; the national coat of arms depicting the eagle and serpent on the red, green and white Mexican flag; and the rebozo (shawl) and sarape both representing the femininity and masculinity of the people of Mexico.
The most popular pictures on Mexican art calendars are identified as painted in the 1940s and '50s by Jesus Helguera (see item 24). His idealized images captured the pride and romanticism of the Mexican people in the same way that 20th-century American painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell idealized American life. Although Mexico had a primarily indigenous population, Helguera and others continued to illustrate Mexicans with European features.
According to independent curator and scholar Tere Romo, Chicano calendar art became part of the art and culture reclamation process of the Chicano Movement often using the previously stated Mexican iconography. Chicanos, however inverted the European features illustrated in Mexican calendars and reclaimed their indigeneity and asserted socio-political content. Nonetheless, 20th century Mexican calendars and their imagery and messages linked Chicanos and Latinos to 21st century calendars and content. Still found are religious, historical and cultural content and images such as important feast days, national days of celebration and observance and imagery linking tradition of the past to continuing customs and social, political and economic situations.