History of Politec

The first artist paint to use water emulsified acrylic plastics developed by the Röhm and Haas Company in 1953.

Discovery of acrylic resins

Acrylic compounds began to be synthesized in the mid 19th century when German chemist Otto Röhm brought the potential of these materials to light. In 1901, Röhm published his dissertation on the polymerization products of acrylic acid. In 1915, he secured a German patent for polyacrylic ester as a paint binder for use in drying oils in industrial paints and lacquers. In these early years, acrylic resins were primarily intended for industrial use.

Acrylic paint as an art medium

Mexican muralists experimented with synthetic mediums as early as 1936. The muralist José David Alfaro Siqueiros founded and held a workshop in New York City to explore the latest synthetics and methods of application. One attendee was Jackson Pollock, who went on to use synthetic gloss enamel paints for his drip and pour techniques. Depression-era WPA mural artists also experimented with synthetic paints.

By the late 1940s, early versions of acrylic paints were sold, which were mineral spirit-based rather than water-based. Many artists experimented with this new painting medium, including Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, Barrett Newman, and Roy Lichtenstien. In the 1950s, the first acrylic emulsion designed for paint was introduced, which has become the cornerstone for all contemporary acrylic emulsions. By 1955, the first commercially available water based acrylic paints were on the market.

Politec Acrylic paint is introduced

The Politec Company was founded in 1953 in Mexico City, supplying water-based acrylic to most of the Mexican master muralists. Up until that time Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and José David Alfaro Siqueiros had been using solvent based automotive lacquers for their murals, After the Rohm & Haas Company found a way to emulsify plastic with water, Jose Guiterrez thought he could use this new water-soluble resin in the formulation of artists paints. He had one belief about artist’s paint — that it should be flat and not shine, and to accomplish that he loaded up Politec Acrylics with mineral fillers such as marble dust, talc, and calcium carbonate.

Acrylic paint in the 20th Century

Acrylics burst onto the art scene when artists were beginning to explore movements and forms such as pop culture, photorealism, and abstract expressionism. Acrylics were ideal for these art forms, which sought hard-edged flat images and distinct use of line. American artists Andy Warhol, Robert Motherwell, Larry Poons, and Helen Frankenthaler, and British artists Bridget Riley and David Hockney were attracted to acrylic for these reasons, as well as for the flexibility of the paints. Media could be mixed, different textures and consistencies could be achieved, colors could be transparent or opaque, and artists could work much more quickly due to its faster drying time

During the 1960’s the Mission District of San Francisco was just starting to get decorated with more and more murals and a great many of them were done with Politec 100 Series acrylic paint. Just look at the murals in the Mission District today — colorful and expressive murals are found everywhere!

The arrival of acrylic painting opened up a whole new wave of creativity and possibility in the art world and had a marked influence in the development of art movements and forms. The flexibility and versatility that Politec Acrylics offers the artist unlocked limitless creative vistas that are still being explored today.