Archive for June 18th, 2010

Diego Rivera's Mural at the City College of San Francisco

There are pieces, paintings, out there that I would love to see in person and then there are some I would rather see from a distance, if only to avoid feeling utterly humbled in my own small talent by their beauty and grandeur.  The great Mexican muralist and painter Diego Rivera created such a work.

It is his Pan American Unity mural that resides at the Diego Rivera Theatre at the City College of San Francisco.  Painted in 1939/40, it is a massive true fresco that measures about 22 feet tall by 73 feet long.  Because of time overruns in the painting of such an epic piece, much of  it was painted as a public display during the Pacific Exposition of 1940.  Actually, after its completion it was packed away for over twenty years, unseen, as World War II intervened then the Cold War.  There was some controversy in the 1950’s over Rivera’s dalliance through the earlier parts of the century with the Communist Party in Mexico and and at that point, anything red was dead in the eyes of those in authority.  So, a masterpiece sat and sat like a dormant volcano, waiting to burst into open air once more.  It finally did in 1961, four years after Rivera’s death.  There is a piece of silent color film from the exposition that shows Rivera at work as well as his assistants at various tasks.  You can see it by clicking here.

I have seen other Rivera works and never fail to feel humbled by his great talent as well as his larger than life persona.  The Pan American Unity mural seems to sum up Rivera in one giant sweep, a piece so dense with imagery that one could spend months examining it and still find new details of beauty and color.  It is bold and big, like the man.  Epic.

My ego hopes I never see it…

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