David Alfaro Siqueiros is best remembered as one of Los Tres Grandes, along with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. They pioneered the use of murals to tell epic stories of poverty, rebellion, politics and the tortured history of their native Mexico. Influenced by Marxism in his treatment of the class struggle, Siqueiros believed public murals were a powerful way for the masses to have access to his art work and political messages. The Tres Grandes, among many other artists, were part of the revolutionary change in Mexico.
The Tres Grandes were products of the "Porfiriato", the pre-revolutionary society that flourished under the 30 year dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. Diaz's ...view middle of the document...
The Tres Grandes were similar in that regard yet all had their own unique style with Siqueiros being the most controversial due to his explosive passion for politics.
Siqueiros was born on December 29, 1896 in Chihuahua, Mexico to a wealthy family and at 14 went to study at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City. He became politically active and at just 15 years of age, led a student strike to protest the teaching methods of the instructors and urged the impeachment of the director of the academy. The strike lasted 6 months and ended in victory for the
students. This victory was a turning point in his life as his political activism intertwined with his love of art.
He spent many years in jail for his political activism and this influenced his art greatly. Siqueiros often painted the sufferings of prison life and produced great volumes of work as he was jailed several times over his lifetime. It was also in jail where he created most of his easel works. He was distracted often from art and painting because of his political involvements and service in the civil wars as a soldier. His radical political beliefs eventually got him expelled from Mexico.
Siqueiros worked in the United States in the 1930s. In Los Angeles, he painted a mural depicting the domination of Latin America by the United States and another one so controversial he was threatened with deportation. He traveled to South America to make murals, returning to New York City in 1936.
He opened an experimental workshop where young artists dripped and splattered commercial paint to make art. One such aspiring artist was Jackson Pollock. Another artist he influenced, Thomas Hart Benton, frequently praised the works of the Tres Grandes to his students saying, "The Tres Grandes initiated a profound and much-needed redirection of art toward its ancient humanistic functions."
Siqueiros had two main reasons for opening his workshop. One was to revitalize North American art as a tool for political change as he had done in Mexico and Europe and the other reason was to create new artistic ways for the working class to relate to and understand.
In 1937, Siqueiros joined the Spanish Republican Army and fought against fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War. He was a sergeant in the Mexican Revolution and a colonel in the Spanish Civil War. The Army's defeat and the rise of fascism would become important subjects of his art.
Rejecting traditional methods of fresco painting, Siqueiros is responsible for several technical innovations. He was the first artist to use acrylics as a painting media. He used "duco" or pyroxylin paints, the kind...