DAVID ALFARO SIQUEIROS - PORTRAIT OF CARMEN T. DE CARRILLO GIL, 1946 - pyroxylin on compressed wood 125 × 104 cm Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil
David Alfaro Siqueiros was born in Chihuahua on December 29 1896.
One of the most acclaimed protagonists of Mexican Modern Art, Siqueiros’ artistic practice is intimately bound to his political militancy. The artist is a member of the Communist Party and participates in the Mexican Revolution and in the Spanish Civil War. He is a strong supporter of the workers’ movements and is arrested more than once, forced to spend many years in jail and later exiled from a number of countries, including Spain, Argentina and Mexico. Furthermore, he is banished from his own country twice, and in one instance due to his involvement in the failed attempt to assassinate Lev Trotsky in 1940. Siqueiros was the founder of the Center of Modern Realism Art. Through a realistic representation, the artist’s murals constitute his greatest legacy and embody the ideals of civil engagement and fight against social inequality and oppression. His numerous innovations and experiments are also worth mentioning, i.e.: in 1936 he, in fact, founds The Workshop, a Laboratory of Modern Techniques in New York. At the same time, the artist starts to use synthetic materials such as pyroxilyn paint to realize his pictures. Such experiments lead him to develop a new technique called “controlled accident” that will later inspire many artists including Jackson Pollock. His experiments are not merely limited to painting but extend to the use of other mediums, including the film projector and the photographic camera. Stylistically, his murals present bold vanishing points and visual angles that contribute to project the viewer within a lively labyrinth of lines and cinematic-inspired movements, as if he/she was about to enter the picture plan. Siqueiros's contributions also include the publication of a number of liminal essays such as: Tres Llamamientos de Orientación Actual in los Pintores y Escultores de la Nueva Generación Americana (Barcelona, 1921), Llamamento in los Plasticos Argentinos (Argentina, 1933) and El Camino Contrarrevolucionario de Rivera (New Masses, New York, 1934).
The artist dies in Cuernavaca in 1974, leaving an extraordinary artistic legacy. The works of David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco represent the milestones of the Muralist Movement, the first Latino-American avant-garde.