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Saturday, June 1 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Paintings) What Lies Beneath: The Textural Influence of Grounds on Diego Rivera’s Cubism

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Whether in portraits or still lifes, Diego Rivera strove to create complex surfaces in his Cubist works, employing a variety of techniques to achieve them. Between 1913 and 1917, Rivera’s forays in Cubist painting yielded dozens of images marked by a significant interest in textural variation. Based on the results of a technical study of thirty-four paintings from this period examined by the author while she was the William R. Leisher Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Painting Conservation at the National Gallery of Art, this paper will explore Rivera’s creative use of grounds to produce topographic variations uncommon in his paintings up to this point in his career. The techniques used to create these textures were influenced by Rivera’s academic training in Mexico and the materials he was taught to use there. Most important in his development, however, were Rivera’s years spent in Europe and the artists with whom he came into contact.

As Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque’s dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler predicted in his Der Weg Zum Kubismus in 1920, “every talented young artist will have to come to an understanding with Cubism.” Rivera did just that, borrowing the vocabulary devised by those two artists. However, Rivera’s experiments with Cubism also marked the first time that he developed his own methods of painting, creatively applying grounds to create considerable topographic variation in his upper layers of paint. Rivera’s Cubist works represent a transitional period in his career, a turning point from his academic training to his later life as a mural painter. His experimentations with Cubism sparked an inventive streak in Rivera that extended beyond his time in Europe. By the time he returned to Mexico in 1921, Rivera had become an artist with a unique vision and an arsenal of painting techniques that he would utilize throughout the rest of his career.


Saturday June 1, 2013 11:00am - 11:30am
JW Marriott Grand Ballroom 3 & 4 19 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

Attendees (19)