Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gladys

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:11 am

DESOLATE LANDSCAPES

TOWARDS THE END of my stay in Spain, I became so sick from my excesses in eating, drinking, and working that I put myself on a vegetarian diet and fresh-air regimen. I took long hikes through the countryside, stopping along the way to become better acquainted with the Spanish peasantry. About this time, I also developed and indulged a sudden voracious appetite for reading. I immersed myself in the works of Nietzsche, Huxley, Zola, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Voltaire, Kropotkin, and above all, Karl Marx. In books, I sought ideas. I read very little fiction. which did not satisfy me then and has not since because of its unreality. I read too much, instead, books on mathematics, biology, and history -- subjects which have continued to interest me to this day though I mainly use my leisure time to observe life itself.

As I have said, I did very little painting of any worth during my year and a half in Spain. Aside from my art study and varied reading, what I gained most from Spain was what I saw of the Spanish people and their condition.

At the beginning of the century, industrial Madrid consisted of a few small factories. The working class was small and unorganized, largely a lumpen proletariat, a proletariat in rags, lacking in any initiative for social change. Most of the common people were picaros or thieves. Having no legitimate ways of earning a living, they turned to lawless ones -- rackets and crimes -- in order to survive. They were shiftless, cunning, picturesque, sorrowful, and tragic. On the whole, nevertheless, the people of Madrid bore their life with courage. This courage did not inspire them to revolt but imbued them with an ironic acceptance of suffering. The very idioms of their slang expressed this resignation. Sympathizing with their misery, the local police treated them with corresponding understanding tolerance. It was not unusual to see a municipal policeman taking a poor wretch whom he had collared, not to the lockup, but to a tavern to buy him a drink.

In contrast to this burlesque gendarmerie was the infamous Guardia Civil, the direct successor to La Santa Hermandad, the Holy Brotherhood, military arm of the monarchy and the Inquisition. This sinister force was heir to the most sadistic Spanish traditions. It was cruel and treacherous, and was openly dedicated to the protection of the upper classes and the maintenance of their privileges and distinctions. It helped to make the social system of Spain one of the most unjust and backward in the world and shielded the darkest of religious fanaticism. To everyone who sought to bring freedom and justice to Spain the Guardia Civil was the unremitting enemy.

Its ranks were made up of the most arrogant, ignorant, and reactionary sons of Spanish upper bourgeois families. These young toughs needed no instructions to serve their class interests. They expressed open and aggressive contempt for their "inferiors," the lower middle class and, of course, the workers. Class division was, nevertheless, less distinct in Madrid than in the more industrial sections of the country: the metallurgic districts of the north; the industrial sections of the southeast; Catalonia; and the mining area around Almaden. There the Guardia Civil used its iron fist openly, as I was able to see at first hand.

I am sorry to say that the Spanish Church worked side by side with these gangsters. Priests, bishops, cardinals, monks and nuns gave an aura of sanction to their activities, spreading over the people a dark blanket of superstition and ignorance which smothered every impulse toward change. So that such rebellions as occurred were always sporadic, violent and impregnated with despair.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:12 am

CHECKBOOKS IN MY FINGERS

Just before my departure from Spain, I played a passive but stellar role in an interesting occurrence at Chicharro's studio.

During the last exhibition I had there, the master painter Don Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida paid the workshop a visit. He desired to see what the youth of the time was doing in art. Sorolla had an attractive personality, and was very sure of himself. His style was academic and marked by a photographic realism, but his talent was genuine and his mastery of technique exceptional.

On the day of his visit. Sorolla took a look around at the walls hung with many paintings. Arrested by a picture of an old ironsmith's shop painted by me, he gave it a long and close look. (This painting, "The Blacksmith Shop," is now in the collection of Marte R. Gomez in Mexico.)

'"Who did that, Eduardo?" he asked. His voice sounded so severe that I expected scathing criticism.

Chicharro answered, "The Mexican."

"Where is this Mexican?"

"There," and Chicharro pointed to me.

"The Mexican was my Madrid nickname, given to me because of the large sombrero I always wore, my head being so large that no ordinary-size Spanish hat would ever fit me.

"Come here, boy," said Sorolla.

I went to him, murmuring, "At your orders, patron."

Looking straight into my eyes, Sorolla said, "Give me your right hand, my son."

He took the hand I held out in a strong grip. Then clasping it at the wrist, he said, "Show me your fingers." After touching each, one after the other, he asked, "Don't you know what you have there?"

"No, maestro," I replied, perplexed.

Sorolla chuckled. "All right then, boy, I'll tell you. In this finger you have a checkbook of American dollars, here a checkbook for pounds sterling, here a checkbook for Spanish pesetas, here a checkbook for Argentine pesos, and here a checkbook for French francs. I tell you, son, I know what I'm saying. I've been to all these countries with my paintings. You don't look rich, my boy; neither was I at your age. My father was an ironsmith like the one in your painting. Yet I came back from my travels abroad with many checkbooks. I guarantee you, you damned Mexican, that if you paint day and night, you'll have twice as much money as I have. I say this because Eduardo has told me you're an exceptionally hard worker."

All my workshop companions looked at me with envy, but Chicharro with tenderness and admiration. Don Joaquin Sorolla then shook hands with me.

As soon as he was gone, Chicharro said to me excitedly, "Have you heard what he said? Sorolla has never before said anything like it to any other artist. And he certainly knows what he's talking about. The future is yours."

The next day, as if anticipating the wealth Sorolla had prophesied for me, I gambled in a local casino. I ran a stake of 500 pesetas, which I had received for one of my paintings, up to 3,500 pesetas. Three days later, fortified by my winnings and accompanied by my friend Valle Inclan, I left Madrid for a tour of Europe.

Along the way, I was troubled by Sorolla's prophecy. Though, like any poor boy, I was tempted by the idea of becoming rich, I did not want to become enslaved to the checkbook, to become a commercial painter. I knew how one climbing the mountain of worldly success can slip down into the river below without being conscious of the descent until he is already drowning.

With such thoughts, I arrived in Paris one spring morning in 1909.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:12 am

ART STUDENT IN PARIS

THE PARIS AIR was foggy, the sun barely visible. Some Spanish friends met Valle Inclan and me at the railway station and took us to the Hotel Suez on the Boulevard St. Michel, which catered mainly to Spanish and American art students. I was assigned the very same room in which that remarkable artist Julio Ruelas, precursor of surrealism, had recently died. It was small but it had a big window overlooking the boulevard.

Paris had been my goal. My roving now ended, I set to work and soon fell into the usual routine of the art student, studying the museum collections, attending exhibitions and lectures, and working in the free academies of Montparnasse. I also did open-air work along the Seine River. At night I joined groups of fellow students in the cafes in warm discussions of art and politics.

Among these students were several Russians who had suffered exile and lived among professional revolutionaries. Their life was one of black misery, sustained only by reports of riots in Russia and their own Utopian dreams.

In my painting, I sought a way to incorporate my increasing knowledge and deepening emotions concerning social problems. Two great French revolutionary artists, Daumier and Courbet, lit my path as with great torches. In their work they had achieved a synthesis very much like that which one day would liberate me.

Yet, though aware of their examples, I was slow and timid in translating my inner feelings on canvas. I worked at my paintings in an indifferent, even listless way, lacking the confidence to express myself directly. My work of the period from 1909 through the first half of 1910, though it shows certain superiorities to my Spanish canvases, still looks academic and empty. Today it seems like a collection of masks and disguises to me.

I have often tried to find an explanation for the incongruity between my understanding of life and my way of responding to it in this period of my painting. Probably the natural timidity of youth was a factor. But more potent, though I was little aware of it then, was my Mexican-American inferiority complex, my awe before historic Europe and its culture.

I know now that he who hopes to be universal in his art must plant in his own soil. Great art is like a tree which grows in a particular place and has a trunk, leaves, blossoms, boughs, fruit, and roots of its own. The more native art is, the more it belongs to the entire world, because taste is rooted in nature. When art is true, it is one with nature. This is the secret of primitive art and also of the art of the masters -- Michelangelo, Cezanne, Seurat, and Renoir. The secret of my best work is that it is Mexican.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:12 am

PRIVATE PROPERTY

Apart from its masterpieces, I was observing the people of France. One characteristic of the French excited my curiosity -- their reverence for private property, and especially of property in land. Their attitude toward land was religious; beside it all ordinary human values disappeared.

The neighborly greeting of one peasant to another was a growl. Yet he would never think of taking one fruit from that other's tree or one grain from his bin -- and not because he was afraid of the owner or of the priest. What he was afraid of was transgressing the holy law of property. That fear produced a ferocious honesty.

I observed, too, that in the urban industrial workers, the petite bourgeoisie and intellectuals, this same worship of landed property lay just under the surface. Even the maddest, gayest, and richest whores and the most Bohemian of the artists dreamed of retiring to the country and working their own land with their hands. A large part of the upper bourgeoisie, including the corrupt politicians, were touched by this mania to own and cultivate land.

Only in the very heart of the big industrial centers could people be found who were conscious of a new, more humane way of life. These few realized that the factory was changing the earth and would one day pull the peasants out of their ruts and bring an end to class society.

Unfortunately the mass of lower-class workers in Paris looked upon those of their comrades who revealed any class consciousness as devils or as carriers of some loathsome and contagious leprosy. Time and time again, these wretches found themselves fighting alone, going down under police clubs, and being shipped off to penal settlements like Devil's Island.

I remember an incident which occurred but a few weeks after my arrival in Paris, one early morning in a cafe near the main market. Although there was nothing outwardly to distinguish this cafe from others, it mainly catered to the wealthy. Among its upper-class clientele were certain beautiful kept women who, bored with their "paying lovers," came here to pick up "heart lovers." The men they affected were the denizens of the legendary world of painting and literature. That is why I was there with other hungry artists: to find a woman to pay for a meal.

A worker, whose fatigue showed in every line of his face, came into the cafe, went up to the bar, asked for a drink, and put down his money. The owner, who was standing behind the bar, would not serve him. On being pointedly ignored, the offended worker quietly asked if it was the rule here not to serve anyone who earned his bread with his hands. The owner signaled to a waiter who served as bouncer. The worker understood the situation at once. He angrily informed the owner that no pimp such as he could treat a worker like this. He invited the owner to come out from behind the bar to find out how a worker's fists felt on his dirty pig face.

Though he was bigger and stronger, the owner did not accept the challenge. He made a gesture with his thumb and, as if by magic, two policemen appeared in the cafe. The owner pointed to the worker, whom one of the cops took by the scruff of his neck to pitch him out. When the worker resisted, the other cop smashed his fist in the worker's face; then, stepping back a few steps, he drew his pistol.

Not being equipped to deal with this kind of attack, the worker stopped struggling but cried out, "Voila la liberte!" ("That's liberty for you!")

Infuriated by the catcalls of the bystanders, the policeman again struck the worker who then shouted, "Et la fraternite!" ("And brotherhood, too!")

At this, my friends and I leaped to his aid, precipitating a little battle of the class war.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:12 am

NO MORE CEZANNES

As I have previously said, I came to Europe as a disciple of Cezanne, whom I had long considered the greatest of the modern masters. I had hoped to study under him, but Cezanne having died before I reached France, the best I could do was look for his paintings. I was still too shy to go where they were mostly to be found, in the homes of private collectors. I, therefore, did my hunting on the Rue Lafitte where the more celebrated dealers in modern paintings had their shops. When I carne upon a Cezanne, I would stand rooted before it, studying and enjoying it

One day I saw a beautiful Cezanne in the window of Ambroise Vollard, the dealer who, I learned later, had been the first to take an interest in Cezanne. I began looking at the canvas at about eleven o'clock in the morning. At noon Vollard went out to lunch, locking the door of his gallery. Returning about an hour later and finding me still absorbed by the painting in his window, Vollard threw me a fierce glance. From his desk in the shop he looked up, from time to time, and glared at me. I was so shabbily dressed he must have taken me for a burglar.

Suddenly Vollard got up, took another Cezanne from the middle of the shop and put it in the window in place of the first. After a while, he replaced the second canvas with a third. Then he brought out three more Cezannes in succession. It had now become dark. Vollard turned on the lights in the window and inserted still another Cezanne.

Though his expression remained glowering, he finally turned on all the lights in the gallery, and with hungry, affectionate gestures, began to remove paintings from the walls and arranged them on the floor where I could see them from the doorway. Among these was the wonderful "Card Players." I stared enraptured, oblivious of a hard rain which had begun to fall and was now drenching me to the skin.

Finally, coming to the doorway, Vollard shouted, "Vous comprenez, je n'en ai plus." ("You understand, I have no more.")"

When at last I started to leave, Vollard walked to the door, obviously intending to tell me something. But afraid that he was angry, I hurried away.

It was late at night when I arrived at my studio, and I was burning with fever. My thermometer read 104°F. The fever continued for the next three days. But it was a marvelous delirium; all the Cezannes kept passing before my eyes in a continuous stream, each one blending with the next. At times I saw exquisite Cezannes which Cezanne had never painted.

To this day, I feel grateful to Vollard for the gruff benevolence he extended to me that day outside his shop. On my way home I had noticed the time on an illuminated public clock -- half past two. Probably no man has ever stood so long as I, admiring masterpieces in the street under a furious rain. But what art dealer has ever kept his shop open so late just to please one poor, fascinated student?

When Picasso brought Vollard to my studio in Paris in 1915, I told him that I would always be thankful to him and the reason why. Vollard threw up his hands again as he had done then and exclaimed, laughing, "I still have no more!"
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:12 am

THE SUN WORSHIPPERS OF BRUGES

THE SUMMER OF 1909 I went to Brussels, where I remained a short while to paint. Here I came upon Maria Gutierrez Blanchard, a painter friend I had met in Spain. Maria was a hunchback, standing little more than four feet from the floor. But atop her deformed body was an extremely beautiful head. Hers were, also, the most wonderful hands I have ever seen. Her physical tragedy was reflected in her works, through which she later became recognized as one of the leading artists of Paris.

With Maria was a slender blonde young Russian painter, Angeline Belloff: a kind, sensitive, almost unbelievably decent person. Much to her misfortune, Angeline would become my common-law wife two years later.

From Brussels, together with Maria and Angeline, I went to Bruges to meet an old friend, Enrique Friedman, a Mexican painter of German ancestry. We were an odd-looking pair, Friedman and I, loaded down with our paintboxes, canvases, easels, and other painting gear. The Bruges children ran after us, and when we set up our easels, they crowded around and made such a racket it was impossible for us to work.

After much discussion, Friedman and I hit upon a complicated but successful solution of this problem. First we applied to the local police for permanent residence permits. A polite and friendly inspector came to call upon us personally with the required application forms, one item of which called for a statement of religious belief.

When we came to it, I nudged Friedman and asked the inspector, "Is it essential to declare our religion?"

"Yes, sir," he replied. "Though the Catholic religion is our official faith, this is a free country, and people may practice whatever religion they wish. We merely ask you to give us that information so that you will be permitted to do so."

We responded with an amiable, "Thank you, sir," and proceeded to fill the blank with the words "sun worshipper."

The inspector showed no surprise. "So, gentlemen, he said, ''as in many of the oldest cultures, I see you worship the necessary astral body and spring of all life on earth. Your religion is much older than Christianity. It will be protected according to the law of our democratic country."

To this day, I don't know whether the inspector was naive or whether, in his sober Flemish way, he had decided to play ball with us. The following sunrise found Friedman and me standing naked before the big window of our chamber, which faced east and also looked out on the fish market where the Bruges housewives gathered early. Being young men, Friedman and I were not bad to look at, and we attracted an appreciative audience. When we came outside later, we found two uniformed men with bicycles waiting for us. The protection of Belgian law was thus being given the visiting sun worshippers, and for a few days, we were able to paint away in peace.

Then suddenly, we lost our bodyguards. One day all the police of Bruges were sent to the nearby fashionable resort town of Ostend La Magnifique. The Tsar of Russia was expected to arrive there for a brief vacation. The children were immediately upon us -- and worse than before. New measures were needed. But what could we do? At last Friedman and I devised another complicated plan based on the fact that Angeline was a Russian.

Together we went to our landlord and asked him to purchase two Belgian pistols, unofficially and without a police permit. I explained that, as a Mexican, I was an ardent collector of good firearms, especially those of Belgian manufacture. Friedman, I said, also desired a Belgian pistol, because he admired fine workmanship. Since Belgian firearms were world renowned, and nowhere more so than in Mexico, we were particularly eager to get good specimens.

As I talked on, our big, blond landlord's big round eyes grew bigger and rounder. Raising his hands in agitation, he asked, "Gentlemen, are you serious about this?"

In reply I whispered, "I'll give you one day to get the pistols and a month's rent in advance."

The man's mouth opened and closed without sounding a word.

At dinner the same day, however, our friend the police inspector, obviously tipped off by the landlord, paid us a social call. He asked if we'd like to play a friendly game of billiards. Friedman was an expert player, and we accepted the invitation. In the course of the game the local police budget changed hands, the inspector proving to be a third-rate amateur. Or perhaps our questions were too distracting. We asked him about the whereabouts of the Tsar and the police measures being taken to protect him. Our stratagem worked so well that, shortly after, another police inspector arrived and went into an immediate huddle with the landlord. The latter took him down to the wine cellar, where we had chosen to dine on snacks of ham and smoked fish and sample the landlord's wines. The landlord went upstairs again, but the inspector, pretending to be following him, took up a post where he could overhear us.

Pretending not to know about this, Friedman called up to the landlord, "Boss, don't forget. Early tomorrow morning we must have the pistols my friend asked for. Better come down now and let's have the directions to Ostend. We want to use the side road, not the highway. If you misdirect us or fail to get us the pistols, you won't be good for much in the future. And if you go and tattle to the police, it will be worse for you!"

The man answered in a trembling voice, "Believe me, gentlemen, I swear to you that tomorrow the pistols will be here. I swear it by the health of my soul. I'll also give you the directions you want to Ostend."

We then went upstairs. As soon as we appeared, he took out a map and hastily began explaining the routes. When we got up to our room, we exploded in gales of laughter, speculating on what might happen yet.

At dawn the next day, our house was surrounded by a new variety of police on bicycles, probably the gendarmes of a nearby town. When we went out to paint as usual, the gendarmes stood on all sides. Nobody, not even adults, dared to approach us.

That night the landlord took us down to his wine cellar and gave us the pistols we had requested. After paying him the sum agreed upon, Friedman said, "We're going to keep these pistols here in your wine cellar. You will give us one key to the cellar and keep the other. In that way, we'll know that no one else can gain entry here. If our arms are disturbed, we'll be sure of the culprit."

So it was that, until the Tsar of Russia departed from Ostend, the children of Bruges left us alone.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:13 am

BEGGARS IN TOP HATS

FROM BRUGES we made a voyage to England on a small freighter. We arrived at the mouth of the Thames River at eight o'clock one lovely, fog-free summer morning of 1909. Two hours later, we disembarked on a London dock.

In London, Angeline and I spent much time together visiting the museums. I especially enjoyed seeing the Turners and Blakes. But I spent many more hours walking around the streets of London which, at every hour, seemed to be a city of the poor.

At dawn, the homeless and jobless overran the sidewalks to rummage through the garbage. Even these despairing people demonstrated the impeccable good manners of the English. No matter how hungry he appeared to be, I never saw an Englishman dip his hand into the waste can until all the women had had their turns. And everyone of His Majesty's subjects observed the rule that he put his hand into it only once.

Also in the morning, I would sometimes see a gorgeously uniformed coachman carting away the snoring hulk of some wealthy rake in an ornate carriage, lackey and master both oblivious of their fellow countrymen scrounging for their breakfasts of refuse.

I sometimes wondered why, on this kind of diet, the people of London didn't die at a prodigious rate. Then I discovered that there was actually a law, backed up by heavy fines, forbidding the mixing of waste food with any other kinds of waste. In other words, garbage cans were legally recognized as the free cafeterias of the vagrant and the poor.

I was also struck by the crowds of working-class men and women crossing London Bridge of a morning, dressed in the cast-off clothes of the upper bourgeoisie. It was a pathetic carnival, these wrecks of humanity incongruously adorned in evening gowns, satin shoes, garden-party top hats, and cutaways. The people who wore them did not come by. these hand-me-down luxury garments free. They bought them in the second-hand shops where they were cheaper than the shoddy new ready-made clothes designed for ordinary men and women.

I discovered, too, that English law dealt leniently with pimps and prostitutes, despite the formally rigid attitude of the Anglican Church toward their sinful profession. Necessity outargued the moralists. When night fell over the streets of London, hundreds of young girls, some of them mere children, began the dreary search for a man with a few shillings in his pocket. Along the walls, groups of boys waited for their girl friends to return from the hunt. Of course, in the myopic eyes of the law, these boys weren't pimps nor were the little girls prostitutes; they were too young.

For the poor, there were also certain places under bridges and along the river front, where at night, sleeping was permitted. The only provision for payment for these open-air dormitories was this. In the morning, a squad of policemen would arrive. One by one, they would wake up the sleepers, line them up, count them off, and give a broom to the last man in the line. This fellow would have to sweep away the rubbish left by all the occupants of the site. Then the newly arisen were permitted to go.

I was also an interested spectator of long, silent columns of workingmen demonstrating in the public squares and parks of the city. Under the marble arches at the park entrances, I listened to all kinds of speakers, from Presbyterian ministers to socialists and anarchists. I made a drawing of an orator who had roused dockworkers to go on strike and some sketches of striking workmen in a clash with the police in Trafalgar Square.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:13 am

A QUALIFIED SUCCESS

On the way back to Paris, I experienced a siege of homesickness. In the British Museum, I had again come upon my first love in art, the art of pre-Conquest Mexico. I began to realize that, in the heavy atmosphere of European culture, I had begun to lose my bearings. Suddenly I felt an overmastering need to see my land and my people.

Back in Paris, the desire did not leave me. For some time, I had been thinking about making a trip back to Mexico at the end of 1910. Now this idea became almost an obsession.

Before that, however, I wanted to show something of my work in one of the large exhibitions.

My compatriots considered acceptance at the official French Salon d' Automne as the apex of artistic recognition. Consequently, I made that my goal. Yet I couldn't help feeling that I would be compromising my artistic integrity. Every true master of modern French painting had been rejected by this or similar academic salons which fostered pompous mediocrity and academicism.

However, if I succeeded in getting my work shown, my subsidy would be extended another two years. I needed this time to carry out a plan 1 had formulated: to digest all the forms of modern painting the better to eliminate them from my own artistic idiom. Thus I decided to make the sacrifice.

As my entry for the exposition, I worked on a canvas called "The House on the Bridge," which I had started in Bruges three months before. I tried to do my best by pushing myself to a maximum of emotional sincerity. At the same time, I also hoped that my entry would be rejected by the jury. This would prove that the jury was unfit to recognize even a measure of sincerity, and would link me with the masters whom I admired.

I was in conflict as well over the sheer economic issue. It was good, of course, to have the grant from the government of Veracruz and be free to pursue my own plan of artistic development. But I also wanted to be able to face life by myself, to solve my economic problems by my work. I had begun to feel restive under patronage, fearing that dependence might sap my strength. With such inner conflicts driving me almost to the point of despair, I grimly worked on my project for three long months.

At last the time arrived for me to send the painting to the jury. I awaited the jury's decision with apprehension. Whatever it was, it must disappoint me. Acceptance would be a reproach, but rejection is always a blow.

Then the word came: my painting would be shown.

I will always remember the anguish this news gave me. When my comrades congratulated me, I quarreled with them violently. For me to be congratulated over acceptance by the Salon d'Automne was an insult.

Nevertheless, on opening day, I managed to find a small measure of balm. Two thousand artists were represented by about six thousand canvases, and in this vast conglomeration, my painting really seemed to stand out. Though it looked academic, it was touched with a quality of sensitivity which set it apart from its more vulgar neighbors. I began to take heart for my future.

During the period of the exposition, I undertook an extensive study of the most recent creations of the Paris school. When the show ended, I went to Brittany for the summer to work at new paintings to bring back to Mexico. It was now that I began to shed some of my old feeling of inferiority. The work I did in Brittany contained good plastic qualities. Belonging to this period is my painting "Shipwreck," which possesses an architectonic grandeur and even a certain poetical quality.

In the fall, I returned to Paris to get ready for my trip home. Rolling up all my completed paintings, I departed for Spain, stopping there only long enough to pick up other canvases I had left in the care of a friend. I sailed from Santander to Mexico in September, 1910.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:13 am

WHERE I WAS IN 1910

Between the summer of 1909 in London and that fall of 1910, some of my ideas about art had been strengthened and others had been changed. I understood certain deficiencies of the work I had done in Europe. Also, I began to see my objectives in life as a human being and how my art could serve them. More valuable than technical lessons from European painting and sculpture were the lessons I had gained from observing European life. I now had a vision of my vocation -- to produce true and complete pictures of the life of the toiling masses.

The workers I had seen in Europe were brothers of the poor in Mexico, from whom sprang everything I have ever loved. Deep inside me, I had discovered an enormous artistic reservoir. It was of the kind that had enabled the American genius Walt Whitman to create, on a grander scale than anyone had before, the poetry of the common people, working, suffering, fighting, seeking joy, living and dying.

As yet this was like a vision I had seen in sleep with the passivity of a dreamer. When I sought to put it into form, it eluded me. It was too original, and I was not mature enough to realize it.

Perhaps my adolescence had been excessively prolonged as a kind of punishment of the man for stealing years from the boy. My real coming to maturity coincided with my second return to my homeland in 1921. It was as sudden as my advent into sex, hand in hand with my first mistress. Between 1910 and that marvelous year, I often felt as if I were two people. One painted and was unhappy with whatever he did; the other knew what he must do but could not do it. At times I thought I was suffering from a pathological condition which kept me imprisoned in a painful mental darkness.

In 1910, I was twenty-four years old and far from a failure commercially. The work I had sent back from Europe had made a strong impression, and many commissions awaited me at home. Governor Dehesa had instructed me to arrange a show of my paintings before the end of the year in connection with the centennial celebration of Mexico's Independence.

Yet I was restless, dissatisfied, impatient.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:13 am

HOMECOMING!

I CAN HARDLY REMEMBER ANYTHING of my voyage from Spain to Mexico. All I have retained is a marvelous vision of the Azores emerging from the sea. In the distance, they look like a series of mountain tops, then an idyllic landscape with majestic waterfalls spilling down the mountains.

As soon as I disembarked in Mexico, I was struck as by a gigantic shock. My whole being tingled. I seemed on the verge of a magnificent discovery that would reveal the meaning of my life and the life around me. But all too soon the feeling passed, and I returned to my normal state of mind.

On the way home, I was busily making observations, particularly of color. The faces of Europeans had been clear against more or less dark backgrounds. In Mexico, the backgrounds were luminous and the faces, hands, and bodies dark against them. This discovery suggested new things I could do in my paintings. I was deeply moved by the panorama of landscape on my journey across the tropical and semitropical expanses of my homeland. When I finally reached the heights surrounding Mexico City, I could almost feel the landscape permeating me.

Other emotions awaited me at home. My family was then living in a three-story house on Carcuz Maria Street, near the Merced market. It was not unlike a house we had lived in during my childhood, and when I saw it for the first time, the resemblance precipitated a flood of memories. Climbing up the stairway, I saw my mother halfway up. She turned, a look of astonishment on her face. Planning a surprise, I had sent no message that I was coming.

When I was almost beside her, I saw her eyes widening with a strange look. She was staring over my shoulder at something that seemed to affect her like an apparition. Instinctively, I turned my head in the direction of her gaze. Outlined against the entranceway was the silhouette of a thin, tall Indian woman who, when she saw my eyes, stretched her arms out to me.

I bolted down the stairway, my blood racing. As the woman took me in her arms, the light seemed to dim. I could only gasp, "Antonia!" It was my old Indian nurse. She kissed me all over my face, and I returned her kisses. My arms held her body tremblingly.

She cried, "My child, I have arrived in time. Eight days ago I dreamed about you in my house in the Sierras where you lived as a child. When I awoke, I began walking here, feeling that every step was bringing me nearer to you. I was not deceived. I reached here in time to take you in my arms before your own mother did."

At that moment, I recalled the strange feeling I had had on leaving the ship.

My mother was weeping and looking at Antonia strangely. In a tone of sadness mixed with defiance, she said, "Yes, I am certain that you dreamed this news about him. I know you possess him, because I never have. That is why I have been so sick and unhappy. But if only because I gave birth to him from my own body, you shall never be able to claim him truly as yours."

My Indian foster mother, twice as tall and twice as beautiful as my real mother, looked angrily at her.

"Yes, it is true," she replied. "You gave birth to him. But if it were not for me, he would not be alive. You were not able to keep his life going. I was. That is why he is more mine than yours. Were you able to see him when he was far away and to count your steps so that you could meet him the moment he arrived? Could you? If you could not ..."

At that, her voice broke. My mother took her in her arms.

Holding one another, the two began to cry, desperately, hopelessly, the sorrow of all womankind in their voices. Watching them, I could feel myself growing small, thin, insignificant, empty. What could I offer to compare with this stupendous expression of love?

Then I started to laugh and laugh. I took both of them in my arms and kissed them with drunken madness. After we had all calmed down a bit, it occurred to me that my great-aunt Vicenta was not in the house. With new sorrow, my mother told me that she had only recently died. She took me to the deathbed in which my greataunt had lain just four days before. Her absence added to my feeling of emptiness.

As I stood looking down at the counterpane, something live crawled painfully out of a nearby dresser drawer and across the floor toward me. It was my childhood pet, my dog Blackie, now blind and so feeble with age he could hardly wag his tail. When he reached my feet, he lay down and began making strange sounds. I bent down and took his head in my hands. He touched my cheek with his tongue, then became limp, and with just a slight convulsion, died.

My return home, the clairvoyant arrival of Antonia, her crying scene with my mother, the news about my great-aunt Vicenta, the death of Blackie, who it seemed had only waited for me to come back to die -- all occurring together, threw me into a state of terrific confusion. I remember little else about that day, except that my father appeared, summoned from his office by my sister, and that as he greeted me with warm explosions of affection, I suddenly lost consciousness.
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