Mexicanos en el MOMA: Diego Rivera

Visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and you will be inspired by the most amazing creative and artistic minds of the 20th and 21st Century.

Please forgive me if I exaggerate a little bit when I say this: A recent trip to the MOMA was almost like a spiritual retreat. Add to the fact that we encountered several artistas mexicanos y latinos in the mix, and it was just like heaven.

Da muchísimo gusto ver que uno (o varios) de los nuestros es reconocido en uno de los most important museums in the world. And that they have their own special placement and exhibit going on at the moment.

Diego Rivera: Murals for The Museum of Modern Art is one of the current exhibitions and stays till May 14th, 2012. Click on the link to go to the website. It is a wonderful exhibition that recounts Rivera’s famous exhibit in 1931 for the MOMA in New York, and how he produced five murals at the museum, inside the museum (at the previous building) so they didn’t have to complicate the transportation.

Back when it opened, the exhibit “set new attendance records in its 5 week run from December 22, 1931 to January 27, 1932” according to MOMA, and even today, 80 years later, this new exhibit is still drawing the crowds in. On the Monday morning we visited, the place was packed and you had to make sure you could get a nice angle for you to fully appreciate each of the works.

In addition to the murals, which all have the essential Diego Rivera elements like the class struggle, the vibrant and muted colors, the inequalities in life and the broad scale of each work, there is also a bit of Diego’s history on view. You’ll find newspaper clippings on his NY residency (even Frida is in the pictures!) and fabulous Moleskin notebook sketches in watercolor from a trip he made to Moscow in his early years, cuando se hizo rojillo y le pico el asunto del socialismo y la revolución. It was like having a picture diary from Moscow in the 1920’s with great historical references, and you can see how he was influenced by the socialist doctrine.

On that note, I have to say that for a socialist, Diego Rivera was pretty upscale. Como que le gustaban the finer things in life. En sus murales se ve la actitud de protesta, la lucha, y el reflejo de la realidad y pobreza que nos cuesta trabajo aceptar. Pero luego lees sus vivencias y sus experiencias, y se nota que era de una clase privilegiada. He was traveling around the world, adopting his point of view, learning from the masters, living in New York, then working for capitalist millionaires, like the Rockefellers, and being promoted and admired by all the art benefactors in the first world.

Para ser socialista, a mi se me hace que Diego Rivera era mas bien del jet-set. He was embraced by the cultural and economic elite in New York City at the time of the Great Depression. Imagine that. He was even given his own space at the MOMA to produce the work!  So I’m sure he appreciated the perks. This is of course mi muy humilde opinión, ok? Luego no quiero ofender a ningún socialista, nor do I want to offend any art purist who will surely debate this.

Of course, there is the matter of his mural being rejected for Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, which is also explained in the exhibit. (Lo contrató Nelson Rockefeller y después le rechazaron el mural porque pintó a Lenin en un lugar prominente. Y pues como que el ícono del socialismo no iba muy bien con las ideas del capitalismo ni con el Sr. Rockefeller, quien le pidió que lo quitara, pero Rivera se negó. Así que no hubo mural de Diego en el Rockefeller Center.)

Here are a few snapshots from the exhibition, and please forgive my angles and weird composition. The MOMA did not allow photography in this exhibit, but being the rebel that I am, and considering my Life in Spanglish readers, me puse a tomar fotos a escondidas. Shooting from the hip, I tell you. Totally undercover, á la James Bond – hidden camera style. Ahi disculpen si no se ven muy bien, and if you’re from the MOMA, I’m sorry! pero la exhibición estuvo tan bonita que tenía que compartirla. I just had to share.

(You can take pictures at the other areas of the MOMA, where photography is allowed. There are a few of them below.)

For more information about the exhibit and visiting the museum, visit the MOMA website. Es visita obligada si estan en NY.

The Museum of Modern Art, MOMA. Entrance on 11 West 53rd Street, NY, NY. 10019. Open from 10am to 5:30pm, Friday 10 am to 8pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Entrance is $25.

The entrance for the Diego Rivera exhibition on the 3rd floor.

Entrance to the viewing area. There is a huge image of Diego as he worked. He was given a workspace inside the MOMA for a few weeks back in 1931 so he could produce the murals within the museum and not complicate transportation.

The crowd at the Diego Rivera exhibit.

Admiring “Frozen Assets” which was the most impressive one of the murals, in my opinion.

Please forgive the composition. Photos were not allowed, but I shot from the hip. This is “Frozen Assets” which merges Diego’s capitalism views with the vertical landscape of New York. Very stark and humbling. No white lily of the valley nor “flores de alcatraces” here.

A view of “The Uprising” by Diego Rivera. Again, my images are off because I was not looking through the viewfinder of the camera.

Commemorative poster of the Diego Rivera exhibition sold at the MOMA Gift Shop on the first floor.

The companion book to the Diego Rivera retrospective is beautiful. Sold at the MOMA Gift Shop.

The book illustrates Rivera’s time in New York City in the early 1930’s, and includes points of interest and inspiration. He loved the NY skyline.

Más mexicanos en el MOMA:

In exploring the MOMA floors, I was delighted to find some of the best Mexican artists among the most fabulous art in the world. Dignos representantes del arte mexicano:

David Alfaro Siqueiros “The Sob” 1939, at the MOMA.

José Clemente Orozco “Dive Bomber and Tank” 1940, at the MOMA.

Frida, of course! Frida Kahlo “Self Portrait with Cropped Hair” 1940. Her sadness resonates. It reads “Mira que si te quise, fue por el pelo. Ahora que estás pelona, ya no te quiero.”

2 thoughts on “Mexicanos en el MOMA: Diego Rivera

  1. FRIDA…pintora AUTODIDÁCTA…sigh!! si no te llega hasta el alma esta pintura (todas las que nos ensenaste!) es porque estas desprovisto de sensibilidad, no necesitas ser mexicano, porque bien nos dices, estos pintores viajaban por el mundo tomando fotografías mentales del momento que al infundirles el sentimiento que les provocaba daba como resultado estos cuadros fuertes, bruscos, llenos de vivencias que marcan el tiempo y el alma… gracias por compartirnos tu viaje…que orgullo!!

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