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Synopsis

In his essay written in the form of a letter, David Alfaro Siqueiros refers to four of José Clemente Orozco’s major areas of interest as he looks back on the life of the recently deceased painter, identifying him as an artist and a friend, and as a fellow participant in artistic and political trends. The first of these areas concerned the anti-oligarch mood that led to the social upheaval of the Mexican Revolution. Orozco’s second area of interest, according to Siqueiros, was expressed in his affiliation with the revolutionary movement while also working as the official illustrator at La Vanguardia, the radical newspaper published in Orizaba, Veracruz, which forced him to use his biting wit to best effect. His third area of interest was apparent in his commitment to the muralist movement in Mexico. And the fourth explains his contribution, as a muralist, to the visual arts campaign that was mounted against the rising tide of fascism. During that last stage, Orozco was the staff illustrator at the El Machete newspaper. Siqueiros ends his essay with a number of questions related to the stages mentioned above.   

Annotations

In addition to his artistic production, David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) wrote political and ideological essays and occasionally art criticism inspired by his social conscience and artistic ideals. In this article, composed in honor of the death of José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), Siqueiros writes about another member of the “Big Three.” The article takes the form of a letter and refers to another artist; the manner in which it unfolds suggests that it might have been written before Orozco’s death. It is nonetheless an important piece—an ideological genealogy of post-revolutionary Mexico that unspools from Dr. Atl [Gerardo Murillo] all the way to the crisis that engulfed mural painting and led to the so-called “rupture,” thus providing an insight into the state of the muralist movement at the time. The article is also interesting because it chronicles Siqueiros’s recognition of Orozco’s achievements while allowing the reader to see how the latter’s work evolved within the ideological community that coalesced in the muralist movement and at the core of the Sindicato de Obreros, Trabajadores, Pintores y Escultores (SOTPE) [Laborers, Workers, Painters, and Sculptors Union].

Researcher
María Fernanda Arochi, Eloísa Hernández
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City, Mexico
Location
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional. México D.F., México