Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this long article, Diego Rivera summarizes his beliefs on what revolutionary art ought to be within the context of modern art, and offers a historic journey through the 19th century, underscoring the work of Daumier, Courbet, and Paul Cézanne. For Rivera, the issue of the class struggle was the most intense, visual issue that an artist could take as his œuvre’s subject. Moreover, he states that the artist was a device born to be a receptor, transmitter, and mirror of the aspirations and desires of his age. The “art for art’s sake” theory did not interest him, given that he saw art as useful weapon for asserting the social content of the work. Rivera discusses his experience in the USSR, as well as the formation of the October group and the debates its members addressed. He also mentions painting a mural at the Dynamo Club in Leningrad, left unfinished because of his untimely return to Mexico after being expelled from the Communist Party. Nevertheless, he says, he continued fighting “from the guerrilla.”

Annotations

According to Diego Rivera (1886–1957), modern art began with the figures of Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) and Gustave Courbet (1819–1877), who introduced subject matters that dealt with the wretched classes. Such themes were one way for Rivera to express revolutionary ideas, as avant-garde movements (which pretentiously ended in “-isms”) left him with an unpleasant aftertaste. Rivera saw that in both the United States and the Soviet Union there were artists committed to social causes who also possessed great artistic abilities. This article is filled with Rivera’s definitions of bourgeois art, Communist art, and the patronage of both. Expelled from the Communist Party, the Mexican painter lacked the ammunition needed to create his paintings unless he received the other kind of ammunition—that is, money from the bourgeois world. 

Researcher
Esther Acevedo : Dirección de Estudios Históricos, INAH / CURARE A. C.
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
D.R. © 2011 Banco de México, “Fiduciario” en el Fideicomiso relativo a los Museos Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo. Av. Cinco de Mayo No. 2, Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtémoc 06059, México, D.F.
Location
William T. Young Library : Univsersity of Kentucky