Diego Rivera’s 1941 painting El Vendedor De Alcatraces is a resilent and proud reproduction of the likeness of a Mexican peasant quite literally shouldering his burden. The preeminent Mexican painter, most renowned for his use and reinvigoration of the indigenous Mural style, was also the husband of the prominent Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The pair’s turbulent relationship spurred prodigious creative output on the part of both. Famous for his large-scale fresco works, Rivera’s Man at the Crossroads, commissioned and started in 1933 for the Rockefeller Center in New York City, was destroyed after members of the public and commissioning body erupted in anger at the depiction of Lenin. A fervent Marxist, Rivera’s life’s works were suffused with a concern for working conditions and the benefits of industry. Rivera’s powerful and resonant images often are littered with figurative reproductions of the whole gamut of professions, crafts, and talents of industrial life, all uniting into a utopian system of productivity. El Vendedor De Alcatraces is no exception.
This vivid reproduction of the likeness of a Mexican peasant is rendered in totemic, local colors, the stylized form of the hunched man bearing a great load appears almost akin to a coiled spring. Brimming with vitality and promise, yet weighed down by a lifetime of subservience, Rivera’s subject is a characteristic icon of Mexico’s history and social problems. Striving to portray his themes and concerns in a form that would be accessible to illiterate peasants with no schooling in art, Rivera’s propagandistic images are memorable agitations towards revolutionary politics. Having honed his talents amongst Picasso and Modigliani in Montparnasse in the early 1900s, Rivera’s work expressed a socialist utopian dream of world revolution, anchored in the local traditions and modes of representations that ensure unity is expressed in true diversity.
El Vendedor De Alcatraces @ krissablog.
July 11, 2016
Nadia Herzog is a pen name of Nadja Bozovic, a freelance journalist whose interest goes from the questioning influence of different art movements, through the connection of arts and urban space, to the art activism for social change. She enjoys interviewing artists and reading all about art history, and she is truly passionate about visual arts, especially about photography, design, graphics, multimedia, and street art in all of its forms.
Diego Rivera (1886 – 1957), a renown Mexican painter and muralist, started studying art when he was 11 years old at the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City and continued learning throughout his life. In 1902, tough, Rivera was expelled from the academy because he had led a student protest after the dictator Porfirio Díaz was reelected president of Mexico. So, while not going to school, Rivera travelled all over Mexico and painted. At that time, Teodoro Dehesa Méndez was the governor of Veracruz, Mexico. He was also known for funding artists, and after he heard about Rivera’s talent, he agreed to pay for his studies in Europe. That is how Diego Rivera got himself in Madrid in 1907, where he worked in the studio of Eduardo Chicharro. Two years later he moved to Paris, where he was influenced by the work of the impressionist painters, and then got more inspiration from the post-impressionists. When he had left Paris, Rivera was travelling across Europe which made him learn and experiment more with different painting techniques and styles, before returning to Mexico in 1921.
While still in Paris, Rivera had become friends with some of the best creatives at the time, such as painters Amedeo Modigliani and Moïse Kisling, writer Ilya Ehrenburg, and many others. It was the time of cubism expanding in the Paris, and Rivera was impressed with artworks of Picasso and Braque, so he embraced the style himself. All those years in Paris, actually, determined the rest of his career.
Eventually, Diego Rivera had crafted his own style. Influenced by many creatives, Rivera decided to simplify the forms, to enter vivid colours in his paintings, and make them precise, direct and realistic. As a Marxists, a communist, and a lifelong believer in the social justice, leftist ideas were often depicted in his art. Besides that, he was inspired by the Mexican land and natural wealth, by the history of a nation, by traditional food and drinks, by beautiful women, science, and art. His career spanned over 50 years, and besides being and exquisite painter, Diego Rivera was one of the world’s famous mural creators, too. Some of his best mural work can be seen across Mexico and the United States, especiallty the series in Detroit, but Rivera had always intrigued the public with something other than his art as well – his love life. His marriage with Frida Kahlo, and then the divorce, and another reunion afterwards made them one of the most popular and most talked about couple in the history of art.
Now, let’s go back to Diego Rivera’s art. His works are very popular among art collectors around the world, who do not hesitate to ‘loosen their wallet’ to get their favourite piece for enlarging their collections. Due to its nature, mural art of Rivera cannot be sold away so easily, but it’s another story with the painted pieces. What do you think, what was the most expensive Diego Rivera’s art sold in auctions? Well, you are about to find out! Scroll down for the full list of 10 Rivera’s artworks with highest prices in auctions.
Featured image: Diego Rivera – Image via Blackandbrown.es