McNair Scholars Journal

Volume 16 | Issue 1 Article 12

2012 Inventing a Mexican : in Kelsey Winiarski Grand Valley State University

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Recommended Citation Winiarski, Kelsey (2012) "Inventing a Mexican Cubism: Diego Rivera in Paris," McNair Scholars Journal: Vol. 16: Iss. 1, Article 12. Available at:

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Famed as a muralist, the array of styles in Mexico, but the European focus of that Diego Rivera utilized throughout the academy led Rivera to question the his artistic career has been frequently importance of Mexican styles, themes, overlooked. Rivera’s active participation and motifs in artwork. in Cubism while studying abroad in Paris For most of its history, San Carlos was established as an international a gloomy prisoner of the European who possessed a profound understanding tradition, a condition made worse by of Cubism. His interpretation of the the familiar time lag between mother was unique; Rivera’s Cubist works country and colony. The School’s explored his Mexican identity while directors were usually imported simultaneously establishing a connection Spaniards, beneficiaries of a policy between Rivera and Mexico through the that was even more rigidly enforced incorporation of Mexican . during the Porfiriato. Right up to Diego’s time, most attempts at creating a Mexican were discouraged. Thesis Students at San Carlos spent months, Kelsey Winiarski The rigid, traditional artistic training sometimes years, copying classical McNair Scholar that he received in Mexico primed Diego busts or engravings of European Rivera for Cubism. After moving to .2 Paris, Rivera worked closely with Rivera recognized his Mexican identity to who taught him the logic and process be secondary. The attitude of European behind Cubism. These two aspects of his superiority imposed by the Academy was artistic education allowed Rivera to fully blatant and, as a result, Rivera developed understand the rationale behind Cubism. an inferiority complex. His artwork, Rivera’s Cubist work demonstrated a however, demonstrated a profound profound understanding of the style, understanding of European artistic styles but his deviation in subject matter, color, and techniques. and tone establish a connection between Rivera and Mexico enabling him to Rivera’s of a Woman depicts his construct a Mexican identity while still in advanced artistic . The one-point xenophobic Paris. and shading in this sketch, a copy of a classical bust, proves Rivera’s skill. His acute attention to facial details Early Life gives the woman a soft, tranquil look. He Kirsten Strom, Ph.D. Born in 1886, Rivera was encouraged already demonstrates in this a deft Faculty Mentor to explore his artistic talents from a young touch, acute observation, and seemingly age. “As far as I can remember,” he effortless aptitude for evoking a sense later wrote, “I was drawing… my father of volume that would all be developed set aside a special room where I was further into hallmarks of his most allowed to write on anything I wished.”1 noteworthy paintings.3 Rivera showed advanced artistic skills; This focus on promoted by his mother, not wanting this talent to go the academy was limiting to its students. to waste, enrolled him in evening classes The enforcement of traditional techniques at the National Academy of San Carlos often made students less receptive to in at the age of seven. Mexican art as well as The National Academy of San Carlos movements occurring in . San provided the necessary structure and Carlos restricted students by focusing on training to become a successful artist the realist qualities evident in classical

1. Pete Hamill, Diego Rivera (New York: Harry N. Abrams Incorporated, 1999), 3. 2. Ibid., 18. 3. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist (New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1997), 9.

72 GVSU McNair Scholars Journal and artwork; students were the lessons of Rebull and Velasco as building Pombo, a popular location for and unaware of the experimentation with blocks to his work, he demonstrated a writers. Despite feeling like an outcast, abstraction in Europe. mastery of . Rivera abandoned he eventually befriended two mondernista Rivera worked with Santiago Rebull the European emphasis of subject matter writers: Ramon Gomez de la Serna and and Jose Maria Velasco during his last few promoted by San Carlos and reaffirmed his Ramón del Valle-Inclán. His introduction years at the academy. These two professors Mexican identity though the depiction of to avant-gardism through these two were crucial to Rivera’s artistic education; Mexican farm workers amidst a Mexican writers inspired a more abstract style in their training tremendously influenced landscape. Rivera rendered La Era in a Rivera’s work. him. The rigorous instruction that Rivera European style, the acute attention to detail The traditional training that had been received from his professors, primarily and the realist quality is reminiscent of the instilled in Rivera in Mexico continued Santiago Rebull and Jose Maria Velasco, European work that he studied and copied to manifest itself within his works, but his primed him for Cubism by providing the in San Carlos. However, Rivera began to art continued to become more abstracted education to understand the movement juxtapose Mexican subject matter within after his exposure to the avant-garde. both logically and creativity. The emphasis a European style. This embracing and A closer examination of two of his self- on composition, proportion, and space acceptance of his heritage continued to gives insight to the impact that that Rebull placed on Rivera’s work made play an important role in defining Rivera the avant-garde had on Rivera’s work. A a momentous impact on his artistic process as a person and artist during his time spent comparison between Self Portrait of 1906 and style. According to Hamill: abroad in Europe. and Self Portrait of 1907 affirms Rivera’s Rebull also introduced Rivera to During his final year at San Carlos, break away from his traditional training composition, emphasizing the use of Rivera applied for a fellowship to study in Mexico and his experimentation with the Golden Section…the elevation abroad in Europe. Despite struggling an avant-garde style. Accentuating facial of geometric pseudo-formula with the traditional European focus of features, setting, and emotion, Rivera’s Self was another example of the way San Carlos, Rivera understood that this Portrait of 1906 demonstrates his utilization the of positivism was opportunity would hone his artistic skills. of his traditional training; he continued to permeating most aspects of Mexican In 1906, Teodoro Dehesa, the governor paint in a realistic style. In Self Portrait of education, even the artists. The effect of Veracruz, granted young Diego a small 1907, Rivera began to utilize the avant- on the boy was clear: he was learning scholarship to study abroad in Europe. garde style through facial ambiguity and that there were rules and scientific Rivera received this scholarship with the a painterly technique. The painterly style principles behind everything. Through understanding that he would send one of the work and the treatment of the face his life, both in his Cubist phase and in painting home a month to prove that he demonstrate a loosening of the artistic his commitment to Marxism, Rivera was working. Rivera concluded that Spain principles instilled in Rivera at San Carlos. continued to insist on the presence would be an appropriate country to start With its splendid silhouetting, earthy and of rules.4 his studies considering that he already heavily impastoed application of pigment, knew the language. Rivera departed for starkly faltering light/dark passages, and These emphases combined with Velasco’s Spain at the end of 1906. restrained palette based on variations logical approach to art instilled a solid of reddish brown, this self-portrait also artistic foundation in Rivera upon which reminds us of the neoromantic tenor that his Cubism was later built upon. As Jean Move to Spain resonated in much late nineteenth-century Charlot wrote, “His [Velasco’s] severely Rivera arrived in Spain in 1906 with and early twentieth-century modernist logical approach to optical problems aspirations to achieve success and fame painting from Europe.7 This abstraction, prepared the adolescent for the further in Europe, but his later reflection of this though subtle, marks a significant 5 rationalizations of Cubism”. period reveals his inner struggle with his modification in Rivera’s style opening him La Era demonstrates Rivera’s artistic talents. He stated, “The inner up to more abstracted styles. application of these principles. La Era qualities of my early works in Mexico were Between 1906 and 1908, Rivera deviates from his other work at San Carlos gradually strangled by the vulgar Spanish habitually visited museums in Madrid. His through the choice of subject matter. The ability to paint. Certainly the flattest and primary focus of study was Spanish masters, emphasis on realism, composition, and most banal of my paintings are those I did such as , Goya, and Velázquez and 6 proportion is apparent, but the subject in Spain in 1907 and 1908.” This cultural the Flemish artists Bosch and Breughel. He matter is distinctly Mexican. This painting and geographical shift had negative became particularly absorbed in El Greco, marks an important advancement in implications; Rivera felt isolated. He lived and under the influence of fellow Mexican Rivera’s artistic career; he has transformed in the Hotel Rusia on Calle Carretas. This Angel Zárraga, he began to accentuate the himself from a student into an artist. Using location was relatively close to the Café de angular planes of his Toledo landscapes

4. amill, Diego Rivera, 22. 5. Ibid., 23. 6. Hamill, Diego Rivera, 31. 7. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist, 10.

73 VOLUME 16, 2012 and picturesque subjects.8 throughout his Post-Impressionist career. down until it became imperceptible. This Following his self-portraits, Rivera Multi-point perspective introduced various process also involved fusing subject matter painted a series of landscapes exhibiting viewpoints of an object into a single with their surroundings. The pictorial a modification of the pseudo-geometric painting. Though Picasso and Braque innovations of Picasso and Braque— the formulas mastered from Rebull. Among admired Cèzanne for this revolutionary construction of a painting in terms of a the works in Rivera’s oeuvre that stand discovery, Cubism was not a continuation linear grid, the fusion of objects with their out from this period are several scenes of his work. Cèzanne established a link surroundings, the combination of several such as Landscape of Avila: The Street of between their art and art created centuries views of an object in a single image, and Avila. It features an emphatically geometric ago while also giving the Cubists fuel to of abstract and representational elements construction of space in keeping with rebel against the last fifty years of art: in the same picture—began to influence realism and an understated treatment of the Their way of looking at the exterior a widening circle of artists, and the style sky through an under painting consistent world, the means they used of became distinguishable by virtue of 12 with . 9 This same geometric recording their ideas about it, even these features. construction of space is demonstrated in their concept of what a painting was, Cubism incorporated reason, rigidity, Night Scene in Avila. Both landscapes are all these things were different from and rules that obscured the line between dominated by the illuminated Spanish anything that had gone before them. creativity and mathematics. Cubist artists buildings; the shadows cast by the natural And they were reacting not only used mathematical theories and processes light sources in both works exaggerate the against the art of the past fifty years in their works. Picasso, Braque, and Juan geometric quality of the paintings. but also against the techniques and Gris, an artist in the latter part of the Valle-Inclán, knowing Rivera’s zeal traditions of vision that had shaped movement, incorporated linear grid works for art and , persuaded him to travel since the scientific in the artistic process. Having specific areas to Paris. During this trip, Rivera began to discoveries of early Renaissance. in which subject matter would be broken reconsider his future in Europe. Rivera But it was Cezanne who formed the down heightened the geometric quality understood Paris to be the center of the bridge between their art and the art of of the work. 10 in Europe and believed that the preceding five centuries. Between early 1911 and late 1912, moving to France would be auspicious; Picasso and Braque frequently exaggerated Cubism became the name of a movement in Paris, Rivera could establish himself multitudinous viewpoints throughout their given a public face by group showings in the as a prominent artist. Upon returning to Cubist works. Indépendants and the Salon d’automne. Madrid, Rivera was convinced that living Braque, continuing Cézanne’s painting The term, thus, became identified with in Paris was a necessity for his artistic technique, amalgamated reality and a set of theories and a group of artists career. After returning home to Mexico abstraction in his La Femme. Braque sensed, simultaneously: its status as a movement 13 in 1910 to exhibit his Spanish paintings, too, that by dismissing the conventional, was doubly consolidated. Rivera moved to Paris. single viewpoint it was possible to Picasso, Braque, and other Cubist synthesize a variety of information; thus, in artists focused primarily on creating History of Cubism a three-quarter view the knot of hair at the still lifes and portrait subjects steeped in back of the head is seen clearly, as if from European tradition. Despite the variety As Rivera was moving to France, the the side.11 This exploratory technique of of subject matter in their works, they Parisian art world experienced a revolution multiple viewpoints involved the breaking all shared a fundamental commonality: of sorts in the creation of Cubism. This down of subject matter and distinguished Europe. European writers, artists, and artistic movement, founded by Pablo Cubism from other movements at the time. critics became the muses of Cubist portraits Picasso and , embodied Woman with Mandolin, by Picasso, while still lifes celebrated everyday life in several aspects of Rivera’s logical artistic Europe. Still lifes consisted of objects found training in Mexico. Cubism focused on is typical of early Cubist works that concentrate on abstracting subject in an artist’s home, such as fruit, tumblers, formulas, a rigid creational process, and instruments, vases, and furniture. These the geometric principles of subject matter. matter by constructing the woman from simpler geometric forms. The woman’s paintings gave the viewer a glance into the Picasso’s experimentation with head is suggested through a square and private lives of the Cubist painters. techniques utilized by Cézanne led to a rectangle, and the body is a of Cubism continued to evolve through defining style characteristic of Cubism: parallelograms, slight curves, and triangles. the use of color. Color restriction became multi-point perspective. Cézanne had As Cubism developed, subject matter paramount to the movement after experimented with this facet of abstraction would continue to be further broken receiving recognition in Paris; earth tones

8. Dawn Ades and Brett Guy, Art in Latin America: The Modern Era, 1820-1980 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 127. 9. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist, 21. 10. John Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914, (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1988), 61. 11. Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914, 57. 12. Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914, 10. 13. Christopher Green, Art in France, 1900-1940 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 20.

74 GVSU McNair Scholars Journal superseded the soft reds, greens, and blues lines of “simultaneity” and represents a the landscape, thus suggesting a formal in later works. Braque’s The Pedestal Table celebratory look at , but with affinity with Cubism.19 Here Rivera still embodies this transformation in color. An a slightly more limited color range and demonstrated a minimal Cubist skill set. array of objects is chaotically stacked on a a somewhat more muted use of color16 Rivera’s understanding and use of Cubism pedestal table; the lack of color diminishes Sharp angles and planes are prominent fully developed only after meeting Picasso; the identity and individuality of each in the behind Maugard this friendship was momentous in his object. The bold hues in his La Femme have demonstrating and reaffirming Rivera’s career as a Cubist. been replaced by variant shades of yellow, profound understanding of the geometric black and grey. As Cubism continued, forms in painting. Friendship with Picasso color continued to attenuate. Cubism paralleled the traditional Another important Cubist painter training that Rivera had received in Rivera was introduced to Picasso and in Paris was ; he strongly Mexico. Rivera’s early Cubist works Gris in 1914 through a mutual friend. emphasized the logic of cubism. More embraced muted colors and jagged angles His friendship with Picasso was brief but cerebral and with a much more coldly while searching for an artist identity in was essential to Rivera’s comprehension analytical mind than either Picasso or Europe: of Cubism. Picasso asked to meet with Rivera at his studio due to his considerable Braque, Gris was more interested in the A more frank Cubist work from the implications of the discoveries they had admiration for Rivera’s work. Previously, same period was a small study in Rivera had a hard time making friends made than in the appearance of their watercolor entitled Arbol, or Tree. paintings.14 His interest in the implications in both Spain and France; his height, Cursively adumbrated in Rivera’s weight, and outlandish behavior often of the theories and logic of the style would work, the basic forms of a tree and anticipate Rivera’s. made him an outcast. Until he met its surroundings are intimated only by Picasso he had remained in many ways an means of a dense network of shallow uncomprehending exile, lost in a hostile Rivera’s Introduction to Cubism lines alternately organic and geometric environment.20 This friendship introduced in character. The resulting all-over Rivera was first introduced to Cubism Rivera to the rationale of Cubism while composition is largely monochromatic also fortifying his status in the Parisian art in 1913, and this experience inspired in keeping with Analytical Cubism.17 and transformed his artistic style. He was world. Rivera describes his first encounter enthralled with the movement, claiming Arbol uses a color scheme similar to that with Picasso: “After I had shown Picasso throughout his life that Cubism constituted of as Braque’s The Pedastral Table but, these paintings, we had dinner together “the [most] outstanding achievement in the simultaneously, diverges from other Cubist and stayed up practically the whole night plastic since the Renaissance.”15 He works for using rather than objects talking. Our theme was cubism—what it is saw potential in the style and immediately for subject matter. trying to accomplish, what it had already began to incorporate Cubist techniques View of Toledo combines Cubist done, and what future it had as a ‘new’ 21 into his works. A thoroughgoing use of techniques with the work of El Greco, art form.” Picasso mentored Rivera, his new visual language would result an artist whom Rivera frequently studied teaching him the techniques and style in approximately 200 Cubist or Cubo- while in Spain. Although Rivera’s entry of the work. Futurist paintings from 1913 through 1917. into Cubism was gradual, he demonstrated Rivera’s friendship with Gris was Rivera later regarded his involvement a Cubist construction of space in View intensified through their mutual ardency with this movement to be one of the most of Toledo. Two attributes immediately for logic and reasoning. From the cerebral important experiences in the formation of stand out in this work: a high-value color Juan Gris, Rivera absorbed several technical his artistic ability. palette and the proto-Cubist architectonic procedures, including a re-acquaintance 18 His fascination with the style led elements. The angular planes that with the use of the “golden section” and him to explore it in his artwork. Rivera’s form the mountains and cityscape are the idea of mixing sand with oil paint in commanding portrayal of a fellow exaggerated by Rivera’s bold use of color; order to create impasto or evoke textural 22 Mexican artist, entitled Retrato de Adolfo he has deviated from other Cubists through distinctions. Rivera incorporated these Best Maugard, was a key transitional a polychromatic color scheme, yet the lessons and emphases in his Cubist works painting. The hazy Parisian backdrop was almost exclusive use of high-value colors which reveal that he fully comprehended executed in a semi-Cubist style along the is offset by an icily crystalline delineation all facets of Cubism. of the structure of along with

14. Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914, 97. 15. Diego Rivera, My Art, My Life: An Autobiography (Mineola: Dover Publications, 1992), 68. 16. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist, 31. 17. Ibid., 31. 18. Ibid., 31. 19. Ibid., 30. 20. Patrick Marnham, Dreaming With His Eyes Open: A Life of Diego Rivera (Berkley: University of California Press, 2000), 100. 21. Rivera, My Art, My Life: An Autobiography, 60. 22. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist, 32 75 VOLUME 16, 2012 Rivera was introduced to other art market with foreign products: as the period of nationalism. Nationalism members and friends of the Cubist It was this argument that provided inadvertently increased xenophobic group, including the art critic Guillaume Deputy Breton with a convenient tendencies in France; outsiders were Apollinaire, who were as impressed scapegoat for his complaint about the viewed as either a threat to France or as with his work as was Picasso. This cubits in in 1912; he a lesser being. This adversely affected the acceptance into Paris was, however, noted 300 foreign exhibitors among treatment of foreign artists during this anomalous. Apollinaire had a kind word the total of 700, and a majority of time, especially Cubists. for Picasso’s new friend, whose work he foreigners on the salon jury. His Despite the success of Cubism, a described as “by no means negligible,” xenophobia was shared both by the national hierarchy remained prominent in but others looked on the new celebrity of majority of press commentators the salons. Foreign artists remained foreign, this ungainly Mexican giant with a less on the affair and, it appears, by the magnets for prejudice like any other welcoming eye government; even the president of the immigrant, and the openness of French Salon d’Automne. Frantz Jourdain, to society to immigration in general and to Xenophobia in Paris revise its rules to prevent both future artistic immigration in particular bred excesses such as the cubits’, and the reaction. Foreign artists were often made The beginning of the twentieth domination of the salon by foreigners, to feel their difference, even inadvertently century marked an important shift in as a condition of its continued access by the most welcoming.27 Parisian salons and galleries. Since the to the Grand Palais. 24 late nineteenth century, internationalism Immigrant artists, including Rivera, had been promoted in France, which led In 1881 the government divested itself of experienced this anxiety. Rivera and his to a rise in the percentage of foreign artists the responsibility for this monopoly in the friend, the sculptor , were in France: interest of a free market, and introduced part of an international circle of émigrés a series of measures enabling a wider living in . Rivera shared In the period 1900 to 1930, between 30 variety of art works to be produced for a sense of displaced identity with these and 40% of the artists in Montparnasse an increasingly diversified and expanding fellow exiles, members – like him – of an were not French. The private artists’ bourgeois clientele. In partial consequence, elite that had fled from largely societies were increasingly open to the numbers of artists in Paris roughly agricultural nations to the center of the foreign exhibitors after the 1880s. In doubled in the forty years from 1870. art world.28 The psychological crisis was the reforms of the Artistes français One of the most common charges against straining for Rivera, but through this he led be Jean-Paul Laurens in 1901, Cubism in the Salon d’automne controversy developed his own interpretation of the most conservative of the Salons of 1912 was that it was foreign.25 the Cubist style. ended restrictions on foreigners, though its juries remained exclusively Xenophobia in Paris affected Rivera understood that his Mexican French. From its formation in 1890, thousands of immigrants and artists. identity would always be associated with, the Salons of the Société Nationale Whatever their origins, these cultural and in some cases trump, his successful art had been open in this way. The immigrants were also, like other foreign career in Paris. Rivera, then, used Cubism indépendants imposed no restrictions workers, the victims of the terrifying waves to construct and reaffirm his Mexican on nationalities, and through the of xenophobia that came, first following identity by Mexicanizing Cubism; he 26 showed rising proportions the Moroccan crisis in 1911. Tensions introduced Mexican iconography and of foreign artists, as did the Salon between France came to an all themes into his work. Rivera’s Mexican d’automne, which organized a series time high in 1911; Germany demanded identity became the driving force behind of foreign exhibitions to promote that France give them the Congo in many of his Cubist creations; his Mexican internationalism.23 exchange for Morocco. After negotiations inferiority complex that had been instilled were settled, France signed over the two in him at an early age receded as he began The encouragement of internationalism prongs of their territory, the Congo and to Mexicanize Cubism. received a substantial amount of criticism Ubangi Rivers, to keep control over and fear from the press, artists, and French Morocco. To the French, this was seen as citizens. Members of the government and a tremendous victory over Germany and Cubist Career salons began instating rules and laws to heightened national pride. Rivera’s Cubist work became distinct limit the success and progress of foreign While the Moroccan Crisis amplified through his modification of subject matter artists. These rules were created to placate and color. His work remained analogous the fear that these artists would swamp the xenophobia in France, it also strengthened nationalism; 1911-1914 became known to that of Gris, Picasso, and Braque

23. Christoper Green, Art in France, 1900-1940 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 61. 24. David Cottington, Cubism in the Shadow of War: The Avant-Garde and Politics in Paris 1905-1914 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 13 25. Green, Art in France, 1900-1940, 61. 26. Marnham, Dreaming With His Eyes Open: A Life of Diego Rivera, 61. 27. Green, Art in France, 1900-1940, 61. 28. James Ole, Diego Rivera, , José Clemente Orozco (New York: The Museum of , 2011), 10

76 GVSU McNair Scholars Journal through the Cubist construction of space, The incorporation of Mexican Rivera to recruit Cubist collage and subject matter, and viewpoints, yet Rivera iconography became more evident after modernist space on behalf of the Mexican incorporated Mexican themes in the Rivera started illustrating the struggles Revolution of 1910, with its unequivocal Cubist style to explore his identity in Paris. of the in his work. commitment to constructing a non- It was Rivera’s conflicts with xenophobia Zapatista Landscape embodies Rivera’s Eurocentric national identity.33 His use of that drove him to search for his identity Mexicanization of Cubism through the Mexican subject matter created a personal and place within Paris through his works. depiction of a guerrilla fighting during the bond with Mexico though Rivera did not He neither worked exclusively in a Cubist Mexican Revolution behind a Mexican physically witness the Mexican Revolution. style throughout these years nor did he landscape. Rather than concentrating The revolution continued to inspire develop only in one direction within the on neutral motifs, Rivera was extremely the subject matter of his work. Through multipoint manner of Cubism, and he personal. In particular, Rivera persisted exiled friends from Mexico, Rivera learned increasingly forged a highly distinctive in depicting human subjects despite the of the revolution. The resulting paintings 29 Mexicanist variant of Cubism. criticism that portraiture—an act of were in keeping with the actual events Rivera began juxtaposing Mexican reproduction or interpretation – was Rivera was himself responding to in the symbols with non-Mexican subject matter. an anathema to the cubist idea of using most advanced and virtuoso manner.34 This technique, seen in Joven Con Sueter Gris neutral motifs in order to achieve pure The revolution became a recurring theme 31 (Jacques Lipchitz), demonstrated Rivera’s creation. Rivera has included Mexican in his works that both demonstrated struggle to reconcile his national heritage objects within this portrait to enhance the support for Mexico and tied Rivera to his and the European he non-European focus of the work including home country. actively participated in. Jacques Lipchitz, a sombrero, rifle, and serape that further the guerrilla: Rivera visually represented the a prominent Cubist from Mexican Revolution in a series of works , is painted in neutral tones in Far from being a mere “mirror” of including Portrait of Martín Luis Guzmán. a Cubist style: reality then, the magisterial Cubist The figure in the painting is considered It is more dynamic in tenor, more painting of a Zapatista “guerrilla” by the pioneer of the revolutionary novel; allover in character, more mexicanista Rivera was composed of a densely Guzmán’s novels discuss the Mexican in signification (with its incorporation relational field of human traces with Revolution in addition to its political of the image of a serape being a collage-like space and a convergence aftermath. Rivera considered Guzmán new element in Rivera’s oeuvre). A of several cultural traditions ranging a political hero in Mexico, and remarkable fusion of both Analytical from popular art in Mexico to in through the incorporation of Mexican Cubism and Synthetic cubism, France. Moreover, the use of Cubism, iconography in this portrait, established it displays a highly disciplined as a language of decentered fragments a connection to him. camouflaging the figures in it, caused dissection of form in geometric terms. The fragments of obscure shapes, Simultaneously, it features a generally the eye to dart about searchingly, thus eliciting a link between the trail objects, and facial features are collaged unified color range and tightly faceted together; they create an unmistakable “collage” components.30 of Cubist clues in paint and the guerrilla’s actual elusiveness in nature. portrait of Guzmán. Unlike other cubists, Rivera’s Cubist style has matured, and Rivera’s remarkable choice of the Rivera endeavored to “individualize” his this work marks an important shift in decentering language of Cubism to subjects by devising, in his own words, Rivera’s Cubist style. produce perhaps the first an “ensemble of traits that would make a 35 Rivera established a personal in the history of a guerrilla was unique and personal facial cipher”. The connection with Lipchitz through the hardly fortuitous, however unlikely at suggestion of the face is ambiguous, as a juxtaposition of the serape – a Mexican first glance.32 circle, an ellipse, two curved lines, and a blanket. Both combated xenophobia while right angle distinguish Guzmán from the Zapatista Landscape demonstrated the array of objects juxtaposed beside him. working in Paris and struggled to define pride and support that Rivera felt for what it meant to be a foreign artist working the revolution. Zapatista Landscape, Joven Con Sueter in a European artistic style. Rivera, in Gris, and Portrait of Martín Luis Guzmán this work, relates his struggles to that of This portrait engendered a are also analogous in Rivera’s choice of Lipchitz through the fragmentation of reaffirmation of Rivera’s Mexican identity. Mexican iconography; all three works the serape; he makes his foreign identity The Cubist contestation of western cultural include a serape. The serape utilizes known and embraces it. hegemony is precisely what allowed Diego traditional Mayan motifs and is a staple in

29. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist, 30. 30. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist, 32. 31. Carl Good and John V. Waldron, The Effects of the Nation Mexican Art in an Age of (: Temple University Press, 2001), 76. 32. Craven, Art and Social Revolution in Latin America 1910-1990 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 11. 33. Rasheed Araeen, The Third Text Reader: On Art, Culture and Theory (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002), 33. 34. Craven, Diego Rivera As Epic Modernist, 37. 35. Good and Waldron, The Effects of the Nation Mexican Art in an Age of Globalization, 76.

77 VOLUME 16, 2012 Mexican culture. This object distinguishes the object projected in these three planes teachings of Velasco and Rebull provided his Cubist works; the work is instantly acquired three dimensions, which brought the solid foundation upon which Rivera’s recognized as Mexican and thus foreign. him closer to reality.”37 Cubism was built. The logical and rigid He has established a disconnect from training that Rivera received in Mexico Paris; Rivera embraces his foreign identity primed him for the rational approach by prominently displaying throughout End of Rivera’s Cubist Period necessary in Cubism. After moving to his works. Rivera connects his struggles Rivera began to question the limits Paris, Rivera was able to study Cubism to Lipchitz in Joven Con Sueter Gris while of Cubism; he came to the realization in depth with Picasso. The xenophobia simultaneously establishing a personal that Cubism did not provide a proper that Rivera faced while working in Paris link to the Mexican Revolution through outlet in which he could express political engendered a strong connection with other the serape. issues in Mexico and Europe. Although foreign Cubist artists, such as Lipchitz, Rivera’s modification of Cubism he never forgot the lessons of Cubism, the while also allowing him to diversify his extends beyond the introduction of movement ultimately proved inadequate style in response to xenophobia. His Mexican subject matter; Rivera’s for Rivera’s need to express the social and incorporation of bold, bright colors in incorporation of bright vivid colors also political realities that were increasingly his paintings distinguished him from 38 distinguishes his works from other Cubist engaging his attention. The restrictions other Cubists while also demonstrating painters during this time. Almost from the of the style proved too great to continue pride and acceptance for his Mexican beginning, his works were full of color; he working with the style for the rest of his identity. The realization that Cubism did avoided that somber repression of color artistic career. not provide a proper outlet to express that characterized works which made line, Rivera’s Cubist period was fraught political struggles in Europe and Mexico form, and faceting the only permissible with controversy, buffeted by debates about and Rivera’s public fight with Reverdy led syntax of Cubism.36 Resplendent hues of the proper course of the movement and to the abandonment of the style; however, blue, red, green, and yellow emerge in his by French xenophobia. This culminated Rivera never forgot the lessons of Cubism Cubist works. This experimentation with in a well- publicized fight between Rivera and continued to utilize certain Cubist color, often most prominent in the serape and the French critic , techniques throughout his artistic career is unique to Rivera’s Cubist works. who condemned the artist’s theories and This bold use of color may involve argued that a Cubist “likeness” was an 39 the embracing of his Mexican identity. impossibility. Rivera became an outcast; In Jóven con suerter gris, he utilizes color he lost his and all Cubist friends restriction; the entire portrait is comprised in the group. of earth tones similar to Picasso and Without support from fellow Braque with the exception of the serape. Cubists, Rivera was discouraged. His Rivera incorporates bolder, brighter hues understanding of the limitations of in his works as he explores and establishes Cubism and the loss of his artistic friends his Mexican identity; this shift is historical. forced Rivera to reevaluate his artistic He cast aside the Cubist’s idea of a career in Paris. In 1918, Rivera moved monochromatic image and began creating away from Cubism; he began to study polychromatic works. Rivera reserved more traditional styles and techniques, color for subject matter that is personal such as painting, in . and directly related to his Mexican identity.

Eventually, Rivera reduced the Conclusion abstraction of his style, and he again worked in a more traditional, formal style. Rivera’s contributions to Cubism were Angelina Beloff, Rivera’s wife at the time, momentous; he provided a new perspective writes, “Diego was fully committed to a to a European movement. His evolutionary very strict cubism . . . But then by 1917, artistic progression from to Diego’s painting style continued evolving abstraction demonstrates the influence and he was moving away the classic that Picasso and other avant-garde artists cubism. He worked in his ’s in three had on his work; nevertheless, Rivera planes: two verticals that would end in an continued to utilize his training in Mexico angle and one horizontal, in a way that throughout his early artistic career. The

36. Sheila Wood Foard, Diego Rivera (: Chelsea House Publishing, 2003), 42. 37. Mireya Pérez Bustillo and Raysa Gómez-Quintero, The Female Body: Perspectives of Latin American Artists Contributions in Women’s Studies (Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2001), 47. 38. Desmond Rochfort, Mexican Muralists, (San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC, 1993), 25. 39. Oles, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, 11. 40. 78 GVSU McNair Scholars Journal Bibliography

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