David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)

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In the grand scheme of Mexican art, David Alfaro Siqueiros is considered one of the greatest and most revolutionary of the Muralists. Other than Rivera and Orozco, no other Mexican artist has received as much attention for their socially driven and beautifully constructed murals, and with good reason. 

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Cain in the United States

Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Siqueiros began his political and artistic career at an early age. In 1911 while attending the San Carlos Academy, Siqueiros attended the great strike, and eventually the Revolution. Throughout his life, Siqueiros’ passion for his political work and art landed him in jail and even caused him to be deported. Also considered a leader in the Vanguard movement, Siqueiros would often contribute to the anti-government paper, “La Vanguardia”.

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The People in Arms

Because of the starkly socio-political themes in Siqueiros’ work, he is generally considered a Social Realist. His style in particular is rooted in starkly European tradition, with dark backgrounds that amplify his social message. However, he also takes on a slightly Fauvist hand at times with bold colors and passionate sweeping brushstrokes. Whatever the take on Siqueiros, one can easily point out his style and techniques in most of his murals and compositions.

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Portrait of the Bourgeoise 

Though Siqueiros is best known for his murals, he also was a fairly prolific painter. It was during his prison terms that he created some of his best paintings; most likely because he could not create murals at this time (although, the possibility of a jail somewhere in Mexico decorated with his art is quite likely!).

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Mujer Con Rebozo, 1949

One specific example of his work in captivity: while he was in exile in Taxco from 1931-1932 he created over one hundred paintings alone. In 1947, Siqueiros also exhibited over 70 works at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico. Because he is more well-known as a muralist, perhaps these works have been overlooked (and certainly, artwork created in jail had a better chance of being stolen, smuggled, lost or destroyed) and the possibility of someone owning his work is very high.

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Nuestra Imagen Actual

 

In 1924, Siqueiros also began to create wood carvings while in Guadalajara, and later on created a great many lithographs as well. Among his myriad of political achievements was creating a weekly publication called “El Machete”. This would eventually be adopted by the Communist Mexican party as their official paper and communication.

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Mae Campesina, 1929 

A teacher as well, Siqueiros apprenticed Jackson Pollack and others and is also credited as being the first artist ever to experiment with acrylic and piroxylin paints.

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Paisaje, 1968 

Though Siqueiros led an intensely politically-driven life, art was also just as important to this great Mexican master.

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Self-Portrait, 1968