Friday, February 12, 2010

I continue to be interested in influences - the tangled effects of circumstance and luck - and so it was interesting to come across the work of David Alfaro Sisqueiros, a Mexican painter and muralist. As a teenager he first became a political activist, and remained so his entire life.

He earned a scholarship granted by the Mexican government following his involvement in the revolution there and went to Europe to study from 1919-22. While, there he met Diego Rivera, was exposed to Cubism, and came away impressed with the work of a number of European painters, especially Cezanne.

Later, in the 30s, he became an influential teacher in New York. One of the students in his experimental workshop, Jackson Pollock, was impressed with Sisqueiros' ideas about 'pictorial accidents' as well as his use of industrial materials (blow torches, pyroxylin paints used in the car industry, spray guns).*

In El Botero, above, I love the way he plays with scale, enlarging those hands so that they're bigger than the rower's face. And if you put your hand over your eyes to block your view of curves in the upper right, I think you find that you really miss them as a counter-balance to the strong, red diagonals of the oars. Once I was told about the influence of Cezanne, it seemed obvious with those textures and the chunky blocks of color. What do you think? Had you known about him?

*from Art, by Dr. Robert Belton, Watson-Guptill

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