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Artists David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros Photo

David Alfaro Siqueiros

Mexican Painter and Muralist

Movement: Social Realism

Born: December 29, 1896 - Chihuahua, Mexico

Died: January 6, 1974 - Mexico City, Mexico

David Alfaro Siqueiros Timeline

Quotes

"Let us reject theories anchored in the relativity of 'national art'. We must become universal! Our own racial and regional physiognomy will always show through our work."
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"Understanding the wonderful human resources in 'black art', or 'primitive art' in general, has given the visual arts a clarity and a depth lost four centuries ago along the dark path of error."
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"...Our primary aesthetic aim is to propagate works of art which will help destroy all traces of bourgeois individualism. We reject so-called Salon painting and all the ultra-intellectual salon art of the aristocracy and exalt the manifestation of monumental art because they are useful."
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"The creators of beauty must turn their work into clear ideological propaganda for the people, and make art, which at present is mere individualist masturbation, something of beauty, education, and purpose for the everyone."
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"Our fundamental purpose was to create, invent our art and, if possible, something so ours that it wouldn't look like anything else."
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"No one can deny that the satirical cartoon, or the visual arts themselves, are powerful weapons of social change".
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"Painters and sculptors should follow in the steps of primitive Italian artisans, who put beauty at the service of the Christian propaganda of their time."
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"Tools, like materials, are not inert elements in hands of a creator of the arts, but forces that determine the manner and style of art. The first thing that an artist must understand is that he will not be able to create anything if he is not able to listen to the generic voice of his tools and materials."
David Alfaro Siqueiros

"Our primary aesthetic aim is to propagate works of art which will help destroy all traces of bourgeois individualism."

David Alfaro Siqueiros Signature

Synopsis

Siqueiros was the youngest of "los tres grandes" (three greats) of Mexican muralism, along with Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. He was also the most radical of the three in his technique, composition and political ideology. Informed by revolutionary Marxist ideology, his career was dedicated to fostering change through public art. Over the course of five decades, he integrated avant-garde styles and techniques with traditional iconography and local histories. He, like Rivera, firmly believed that technology was a means to a better world and he sought to combine traditions of painting with modern political activism.

Key Ideas

Investing his work with his Marxist ideology, even when it cost him commissions and jeopardized his work, Siqueiros epitomizes the politically engaged artist. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he refused any commission that conflicted with his ideology. His commitment to education and his belief that public art could inform and inspire the masses to demand revolution has served as a model of activism for subsequent artists with political or social agendas.
To create his activist and revolutionary public art, Siqueiros brought together elements of avant-garde painting with traditional art historical symbolism and folk art. With this combination, he believed that he generated dynamic forms with popular appeal, capable of delivering educational content to a disenfranchised public.
In his experimentation with unconventional materials and industrial techniques, Siqueiros expanded the range of avant-garde painting. His Siqueiros Experimental Workshop, led in New York, exposed students (including Jackson Pollock) to contemporary notions of automatism and accident, and encouraged them to adopt new approaches to how paint could be applied. His leadership was crucial in breaking away from traditional techniques of fine art to more gestural and individualistic means of painting.

Biography

David Alfaro Siqueiros Photo

Childhood and Education

Born in the small town of Santa Rosalia, Mexico, José de Jesús Alfaro Siqueiros was raised from the age of four by his paternal grandparents after his mother died. His grandfather, Antonio 'Siete Filos,' was a conservative man of harsh temperament and Siqueiros later remembered him as the very incarnation of Mexican machismo, taking it upon himself to toughen up the young Jose and his little brother by unexpectedly throwing rocks at them or waking them up in the middle of the night by tickling them. Such "games" were part of his "School of Men" and continued until Siqueiros was sent to a religious boarding school at age 11.

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David Alfaro Siqueiros Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
David Alfaro Siqueiros
Interactive chart with David Alfaro Siqueiros's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Georges BraqueGeorges Braque
Umberto BoccioniUmberto Boccioni
Gerardo MurilloGerardo Murillo

Personal Contacts

Diego RiveraDiego Rivera
Jose Clemente OrozcoJose Clemente Orozco

Movements

CubismCubism
FuturismFuturism
RenaissanceRenaissance
Pre-Columbian ArtPre-Columbian Art

Influences on Artist
David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros
Years Worked: 1922 - 1971
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Jackson PollockJackson Pollock

Personal Contacts

Diego RiveraDiego Rivera

Movements

Mexican MuralismMexican Muralism
Social RealismSocial Realism

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino
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