Magnificent Mexico: 20th Century Modern Masterworks

Magnificent Mexico: 20th Century Modern Masterworks

January 28 –  May 27, 2012

By Ingrid M. Reeve

As an artist, all art is an ancestor. But I feel a particular affinity for the work of Diego Rivera- my grandfather was an artist who studied with Mariano Rodriguez, a pupil of Diego Rivera, so it was a distinct pleasure to view the work of Diego Rivera in my home town of El Paso, TX. The exhibit, Magnificent Mexico at the El Paso Museum of Art, consisted of three parts. Each had its merits; Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco not surprisingly stood out among the others.

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886 – 1957)

Portrait of Maximiliano Volonchine, no date

Oil on canvas, 51.20” x 37.82”

Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City

CONACULTA – INBA

©2011 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, México, D.F.

Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

The first room, Diego Rivera and the Cubist Vision from the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, México, consists of  8 large scale fairly uniform cubist paintings, created by Diego Rivera while he lived in Paris (1913-1917). What struck me the most about these paintings is the way they contrast the quintessential Rivera paintings sitting in my head. Like oil and water. These paintings Are studies- finished studies about someone else’s idea of art, not Diego Rivera’s. The paintings are analytical, detached, sophisticated, European, perhaps. They’re brilliantly composed images, but I wonder how Diego Rivera felt about them.

I realize what a great feat it was for him to find a visual method of expression that consolidated his heritage, his beliefs, his being. I can feel the artist painting with a beret on his head and a pipe in his mouth. Paris didn’t suit Diego Rivera, and neither does cubism. I leave the gallery with a desire to see A Diego Rivera painting, the kind where I can picture him in a sarape smoking a cigarillo ideally next to Frida Khalo.

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886 – 1957)

El arquitecto
(Retrato de Jesús T. Acevedo),1915

Oil on canvas, 55.91” x 45.28”

Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, México, D.F.

CONACULTA – INBA

©2011 Banco de México
Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust,
México, D.F.

Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

DIEGO RIVERA

Retrato de Maria Asunsolo en us equipal (1948)

pencil on paper, 63 x 48 cm.

Collection of INBA, Museo Nacional de Arte

My thirst is satiated in the third room where I find a lovely Diego Rivera drawing. The image bares no illusion of perfection. A human touch is evident; residue marks of a dress and arms laid in too far left bare witness to human error. The figure is observed, not coldly calculated, and all is well again, because Diego Rivera found Diego Rivera.

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