Siqueiros, David Alfaro

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Siqueiros, David Alfaro

(dävēth` älfä`rō sēkā`rōs), 1896–1974, Mexican painter, b. Chihuahua. Siqueiros was among Mexico's most original and eminent painters. His career as an artist was always related to his vigorous socialist revolutionary activities. He enlisted in the Batallón Mamá ("Baby's Brigade") in the Carranza army and at 17 was a staff officer. As military attaché at the Mexican legation in Paris (1919–21), he came into contact with stimulating contemporary artistic movements. Upon his return to Mexico in 1922, he became a leader of the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Artists, and Sculptors and a founder of the magazine Machete, which expounded the principles of a new national "people's art." After frequent imprisonment for political activities and extensive travel abroad, Siqueiros served as an officer in the Spanish republican army (1938).

Siqueiros, Diego RiveraRivera, Diego
, 1886–1957, Mexican mural painter, studied as a youth with Posada and other Mexican painters; husband of Frida Kahlo. The native sculpture of Mexico deeply impressed him.
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, and José Clemente OrozcoOrozco, José Clemente
, 1883–1949, Mexican muralist, genre painter, and lithographer, grad. Mexican National Agricultural School. He became an architectural draftsman and in 1908 turned to painting. With Diego Rivera he led the renaissance of modern Mexican art.
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 are often referred to as "los tres grandes"—the three greats of Mexican mural painting. Siqueiros's art is one of violent social protest expressed in dynamic, swirling brushwork, dramatic contrasts of light and shade, brilliant colors, and heroic themes. Among his best-known works are murals at the National Preparatory School, Mexico City (1922–24) and for the Plaza Art Center, Los Angeles (1932; destroyed); the mural Portrait of Mexico Today, originally painted in a Los Angeles residence in 1932, is now in the collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. His other major murals include the vast Liberation of Chile, at the Mexican school, Chillán, Chile (1942); New Democracy, at the National Institute of Fine Arts, Mexico City (1945); a series at the Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City (1952); and the culmination of his work, The March of Humanity (1968, Hotel de Mexico, Mexico City).


See B. S. Myers, Mexican Painting in Our Time (1956).

Siqueiros, David Alfaro


(full name, José David Alfaro Siqueiros). Born Dec. 29, 1898, in Chihuahua; died Jan. 6, 1974, in Cuernavaca. Mexican painter, graphic artist, and public figure. One of the founders of the Mexican school of mural painting.

Siqueiros studied in Mexico City at the Academy of Fine Arts (1911) and at the Open Air School of Santa Anita (1913). Beginning in 1911 he was active in the revolutionary movement, and from 1914 to 1918 he was an officer in V. Carranza’s army. Siqueiros worked in France and Spain from 1919 to 1922; in 1921 he published a manifesto of revolutionary art in Barcelona. In 1922, after his return to Mexico, he founded the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Artists, and Sculptors, serving as the organization’s general secretary from 1923 to 1925. From 1924, Siqueiros was a leader of the Communist Party of Mexico and editor in chief of the newspaper El Mundo. During the 1920’s he was active in the trade union movement; he was made the general secretary of the Mexican Unitary Trade Union Confederation in 1929. In 1930 he was arrested, and in 1931 he was exiled to Taxco.

Between 1932 and 1936, Siqueiros worked in the USA; he founded an experimental workshop in New York in 1936. He served as an officer of the Republican Army in Spain from 1937 to 1939. His activities in Argentina (1933), Chile (1941-42), and Cuba (1943) greatly influenced the development of mural art in Latin America. Siqueiros visited Moscow in 1927, 1955, 1958, and 1972. In 1960 he was imprisoned in Mexico for his political activity, but in 1964 he was released as a result of international pressure. In 1967, Siqueiros was made an honorary member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR; in 1966 he received the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Nations.

A fighter for revolutionary art imbued with communist ideological content, Siqueiros created images marked by heightened expressiveness and great plastic force. He was a firm believer in the active influence of works of art on the masses. His monumental compositions combine representations of actual persons with symbolic embodiments of social-historical forces; they are marked by the use of dynamically shortened perspective, the bold combination of painting and sculptural forms, and the introduction of new artistic materials (synthetic paints, ceramic relief mosaic). In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Siqueiros’ treatment of historical events and personages took on a heightened expressiveness, and the political content of his work was intensified.

Siqueiros’ principal works in Mexico City include the murals in the National Preparatory School (fresco, 1922-23), the Electrical Workers Union building (1939), the Palace of Fine Arts (1945 and 1950–51), and the National History Museum (begun 1959), the mosaic and relief on the facade of the chancellor’s building at the University of Mexico (1952–54), and the monumental-decorative structure Poliforum, which combines architecture, painting, and sculpture (1971). Works by Siqueiros in the Museum of Modern Art include the easel paintings Proletarian Mother (1929–30) and Portrait of G. Gershwin (1936). The artist also did numerous lithographs and drawings.


Como se pinta un mural. Mexico City, 1951.
L’art et la revolution. Paris, 1973.


Zhadova, L. Monumental’naia zhivopis’ Meksiki. Moscow, 1965.
Polevoi V. Iskusstvo stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1967.
David Sikeiros. [Leningrad, 1969.]
Tibol, R. DavidAlfaro Siqueiros. Mexico City [1969].

V. M. POLEVOI [23–1056–]

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