Diego, Remedios, Frida et al

“Disquieting presence”. 1959. By Remedios Varo. (MAM, Mexico city)

Remedios Varo (1908-1963) was born in Spain. One of the first women to study art in Madrid. She went to Paris in 1937. As many artists did then. Like Leonora Carrington, she left Europe in 1941 for Mexico. Never came back. She is one of the greatest Surrealist artists in history.

Sketch for “A disquieting presence”. If I ever felt the need to be convinced of the magic contained in a single pencil, this would do the trick…

Portrait of Ruth Rivera, 1949. By Diego Rivera. We were only going for a magical expo of Remedios Varo at the MAM (Museo de Arte Moderno) in Mexico city, when we stumbled on another expo of Diego Rivera. Goody, goody.

Ruth Rivera (1927-1969), daughter of Diego Rivera, was the first woman to graduate from the Polytechnic school of architecture in 1950… (Another pioneer… 1950? Shaking my head). The mirror reminds me of a moon. Could be intentional.

The revolution”, 1964. By David Alfaro Siqueiros. Chapultepec castle.

Siqueiros (1896-1974) was one of three major Mexican muralists with Rivera and Orozco. Most mexican artists of the time inclined to the left. Siqueiros was the most radical. In 1941, he attacked Trotsky’s house in Mexico with a party of followers all armed with machine-guns. After that, he fled in exile to Chile, helped by Pablo Neruda. Small world.

Mexican peasants on the left of the mural above represent the Mexican revolution of 1910. To the right, one can recognise Karl Marx. And possibly Engels and Stalin… Not sure. The mural then continues across several other walls.

Diego Rivera, sitting by an Olmec head, 1945. MAM

Olmec head, Villahermosa, c.1992. (Photo yours truly) The Olmecs were an ancient pre-Colombian civilization with first centres around 1500BC. They carved huge heads in stone, weighing up to ten tons. They disappeared around 400AD.

Portrait of Linda Christian. 1949. By Diego Rivera.

Linda Christian (1923-2011) was a Mexican born actress who did most of her career in Hollywood. Her best known movie is “Tarzan and the mermaids”. Shot in Acapulco with Johnny Weissmuller. A triple B-Movie. (Love B-movies). Don’t you think the tree trunk to the left looks ready to jump on Linda Christian? I think this qualifies as a B-Portrait.

“Exploration of the sources of the Equinox”, 1959. Remedios Varo.

Remedios Varo had a unique style. Her human characters, the composition. The strange transport machines.

“Multiple self-portrait”, 1950, by Juan O’Gorman. Lots of details in this painting. I remember the wooden frame for tennis rackets on the left. Used them “meself”.

O’Gorman (1905-1982) was a Mexican architect, painter, muralist. Despite his pretty boy looks, he was a very talented and versatile. In 1931, barely 26 and influenced by Le Corbusier, he built a house for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Two houses in fact, linked by a bridge. Still there. Now a museum.

“The two Fridas”, 1939, by Frida Kahlo. Recurring themes of pain and suffering. One must look at the photos of Frida to get another sense of her life. She was very much active, except for certain periods of her life.

“Cat paradise”, 1955, Remedios Varo. Varo, like Leonor Fini and others, loved cats…

Remedios Varo. In L’Excelsior. This picture is probably from the 50’s. Varos died young, at 54. Who knows what other masterpieces she could have left, had she lived on?

“The devil in church”, 1947, Siqueiros. This powerful picture made me think of the fire in Notre-Dame.

The history of religion, part of a tryptic. 1950. Diego Rivera. Rivera probably introduced many symbols in this piece. One strikes me most. The central character is probably Zeus, holding lightning in his hand. Look closely at his face. Left and right are the two heads of Janus, the double-faced Roman god. He who happens to be, amongst many other things, the god of doorways… Doors are very popular among bloggers… Aren’t they?

“Señor Presidente municipal”, (Mr. Mayor) 1947, by Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902-2002). Alvarez Bravo was one of the pioneers of Mexican photography. Elections in Mexico have always been a sensitive topic. This “humble” man in the photograph is also a proud man. He is the elected Mayor of his little village. Despite the clear lack of resources, he is “Mr. Mayor”.

Going to the market. (My title). By Diego Rivera, 1931. This indigenous woman carries her wares in a basket on her head. Going to the market maybe. No caption in the museum. I would say by her dress that she is from the Southeast, possibly from Oaxaca.

“La huída”, The escape, 1961, by Remedios Varo. Love this piece. Part of a tryptic.

“Under construction”. Anonymous. Tlalpan district. Mexico city, 2022.

Unless otherwise mentioned all pictures were taken at the MAM (Museo de Arte Moderno) in Mexico city.

Thank you for taking Equinoxio’s express tour of Mexican art… Hope you enjoyed the Equinox yesterday.

84 thoughts on “Diego, Remedios, Frida et al

      • No meu momento mais difícil da vida, foi a arte que me reconstruiu para fortalecer minha mente e seguir em frente. Hoje, estou negativo em todos os exames. Sei que o câncer é traiçoeiro mas tenho um bom indicativo de continuar mais tempo por aqui. Também pela arte. Grande abraço.

      • Bacano. One day at a time… 😉
        E Vc tem razão, acho que o meu crecente interés a favor do arte tem que ver com a crecente (spelling?) degradação do mundo em que vivimos… Vc tem filhos? Eu tem dois filhas e dois netos. Tou preocupado por eles…
        Mais, novamente, one day at a time. Bacano día peos seus resultados… Um grande e forte abraço, Irmão inventado meu… 😉

      • Brian, irmão de fé sempre, não tenho filhos, infelizmente, mais muitos sobrinhos e são como filhos.
        É verdade, a vida na Terra está se esvaindo – o meu post Outono é sobre isso, embora escrito de forma abstrata – que até hoje aqui ainda é verão e a crise hídrica é grave já. Tenhamos esperança.

    • Thank you for visiting. I’d seen 3 Remedios Varo Last summer at the Tate Modern in London. I’ve always liked her work, then I learned there was a special expo here. So we went. Pure joy.
      Glad to share.
      A bientôt.

  1. Je ne suis pas très fan du symbolisme. Il y avait une galerie d’art spécialisée dans le symbolisme à la Haye. Un peu maniéré à mon goût. Mais Remedios Varo est impressionnante, surtout dans ses dessins, à mes yeux. Et puis “Exploration of the sources of the Equinox” … prêt pour un saut temporel ? Il y a aussi cette silhouette entre l’arbre, que j’ai pris pour vivant, et Linda Christian.
    Merci pour le saut dans une autre culture, Brieuc, et un bel après-midi à toi.
    PS. Évidemment Frida Kahlo dépasse tout le monde en matière d’émotions.

    • Bien d’accord. dans tout courant d’art, il ya des… variations. Selon les auteurs. Remedios Varo est unique. (Au passage, j’aime bcp Leonor Fini aussi.)
      Et comme tu as remarqué, les titres des tableaux eux-mêmes sont tout un programme.
      Il y aura d’autes posts sur le sujet…
      Bonne nuit cher ami.

  2. Goeienavond Brian. (Over here it’s evening anyway 🙂 ) Cool insight in Mexican art! Some names i heard of, and seen work from, others are unknwon by me, like the beautiful Sophia Loren-like Remedios Varo. I love the photograph of Mr Mayor and Rivera’s Going to the market. But all the work have a special, colourfull flavor. Tot ziens!

    • Dankje wel Peter. Remedios Varo is not as widely known as she deserves… I find great poetry in her work, both the art and the titles…
      I’ll second your selection…
      All well I hope?
      Tot ziens.

      • All is well over here. Next week a short trip is awaiting and these days I’m skimming the internet for I thought I wanted to buy a new headphone. Interestingly everybody has a different opinion on wich one is the best, so as usual I will have to find my own way. The funny part is: the listening to all those reviewers and sound demo’s I do via… the perfectly capable headphones I already own.So by now I’m starting to think that I’m not even going to bother ordering one. Well, consider this the burdens of a man with to much free time. 🙂

      • Haha! Sometimes after so many reviews, one just stays with the current model. I’ve been wondering whether to change my IPhone 7 for a while now. But. But. “If it works don’t fix it”. It works. So I think I’ll wait.
        Enjoy your trip…

      • We are fine, thank you. Spring is coming slowly, but last year it was colder with night frosts from February through to May, so I won’t complain … too much 😉
        I hope you and your family are doing well?

  3. A typically intriguing gallery from you, Brian. Frida was not the only Mexican female artist who died young, I see. I agree about the tree trunk (mermaid?) emerging from the waves – and Engels and Stalin

    • Thank you Derrick. So many artists died young, sadly. Here and anywhere. So many die young as you and I know… The sad law of Life…
      I see you have the same reading of the images. I was wondering about Stalin. Most if not all photographs never show him with glasses. But he was bound to use some if only to read… And Siqueiros was a strong Stalin supporter.

  4. Wow, what an amazing collection! Quite a few that I haven’t seen before so thank you.
    Love the depth and detail of the “Multiple self-portrait”. I find the “Disquieting presence” disturbing.
    Is this your second post for this week or have I lost track of time? You’re on a roll!

  5. I really enjoyed this, who knows the mind and where it goes or why? I think I’m at home in disquieting. I used to have a door sign – Do come in, I’m already disturbed 🙂

    • Haha. I always think that what we see came directly from the artist’s brain…
      I love the sign. I used to have a similar sign on my door. In market research we use visual for some questions. Different sizes of NO on a sheet of paper. I had one my – always open – door. When somebody knocked on the door and I was busy I would point at the sign… and say: “is it extremely urgent AND important?”
      I love yours. It’s even better.

    • Glad you like both. Background is important. I also learned how to do research in (US) Grad school. Then in my line of work, one always needs to support anything with facts. So it’s nice to share. (I also learn stuff) when I do a little research…

      • I do and it is but not everyone does 😉 So thank you for that!
        And yes, we do learn stuff when we do a little research. Bonus!

      • Research is what impressed me most of the American (and Canadian I imagine) system. En France on fait quelques dissertations jusqu’en Prépa, et après c’est fini. Mais la notion des “papers”, do some research, and more research, and don’t write until you got your facts straight? That’s unique. And it stayed with me all my life…
        Biz back…

      • Un ami Mexicain à moi dirigeait une commission de travail pour le Traité de Libre Commerce Mex-US-Can. Il me disait qu’il avait embauché la moitié des ses gens formés en France, l’autre moitié aux US. “Ceux des US? Beaucoup de chiffres, de données, de faits, pas beaucoup de concept. Ceux formés en France, plein de concepts, pas beaucoup ou pas de chiffres”. Il a rigolé et m’a dit: “Aprés mon boulot consistait à prendre le meilleur de chaque travail.”
        Ça m’avait bcp frappé à l’époque…

    • Disquieting indeed… 😉
      I like Varo’s style. Quite unique…
      All well I hope? I understand Hubby has gone to work. Your son had health issues if I recall? Is he better?

      • Varo’s style is very unique which makes it hugely interesting. Everyone is doing well at the moment. My son is on holiday and not at school (so no germs for a few weeks). He will have been on the new preventative treatment for a month when he returns to school so, hopefully, he’ll manage the winter months better. My husband seems to be doing very well. He sees the neurologist on Tuesday next week and should get clearance to return to work full time.

  6. Excellent post, Brian. Mexican art is as unique as its artists.
    Like any place in time, artists leave their impressions.
    Mexico has had its share of greats. Thank you for this!

  7. What a great post – as well as introducing me to some new artists, you evoked some memories, for one, I have stood in front of that very same Olmec head, a few yers after you in 1996.

    • Yes, some can be disturbing. But, art, to me is a light at the end of the tunnel. Given the horrors one can witness or read every day, Art restores faith in the human kind…
      (Thank you. I like art, so it’s easy to research. And to keep short… LOL)

  8. great curation as always! just saw a fashion tv ad the other day with a young girl sporting a faint moustache — waiting for that to catch on!

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