Get Your Art On: Part 1

Diego Rivera Murals at MoMA

Diego Rivera. Agrarian Leader Zapata. 1931. The Museum of Modern Art. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund, New York City

This weekend I finally went to the Museum of Modern Art to check out the murals of Diego Rivera.

The exhibition includes “portable murals” that Rivera painted in 1931 for his first show at MoMA, early drawings that mark the evolution of these works, as well as the large scale sketches that guided his transfer of the images to the frescos.  Inspired by his experience in New York City, Rivera went on to paint three more portable murals highlighting the city’s economic disparity during the Great Depression (see his mural Frozen Assets below).

Additionally, there are quick watercolor studies that Rivera did during the time he spent in Moscow for the 10th anniversary of the Communist Revolution that provide great insight into his future painting of the workers movement in both Mexico and the United States.

Ever since I was a student in Mexico City in the 90s, I have been a fan of Rivera’s large scale work that decorates major public buildings all over the city.  He was also revered in the United States leading to several high-profile commissions including the Ford-funded depiction of industry in the Detroit Institute of Arts and the ill-fated Rockefeller Center mural from which he was fired after including a portrait of Lenin.

What I love most about Rivera’s work is his storytelling.  In one frame, he manages to convey powerful political commentary and a history of a people without diluting the emotional impact.

From the MoMA website:
“This exhibition will bring together key works made for Rivera’s 1931 exhibition, presenting them at MoMA for the first time in nearly 80 years. Along with mural panels, the show will include full-scale drawings, smaller working drawings, archival materials related to the commission and production of these works, and designs for Rivera’s famous Rockefeller Center mural, which he also produced while he was working at the Museum. Focused specifically on works created during the artist’s stay in New York, this exhibition will draw a succinct portrait of Rivera as a highly cosmopolitan figure who moved between Russia, Mexico, and the United States, and will offer a fresh look at the intersection of art making and radical politics in the 1930s. MoMA will be the exhibition’s sole venue.”

Go see it before the show ends on May 14!

Diego Rivera. Frozen Assets. 1931. Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino, Mexico City, Mexico

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