Art 1 – Due 11/26

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Read the following 2 articles and watch the video about David Alfred Siqueros who made an impact on many American artists, as well as on Rosenquist, as learned during class.

Siqueiros and Indelible Connection

Siqueiros in LA

Discuss the most interesting aspects to you about  the creation of this Siqueiros mural?

What are the most important aspects to you about the social and historic context ?

How did Siqueiros and this mural influence other artists?

Do you see a connection with Rosenqist’s F-111? How do these works differ?

In your sketchbook, working for 1 hour and marking the time on the back, do a Siqueiros inspired drawing, relevant to an issue you care about.

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37 responses »

  1. The mural named “América Tropical” painted by Siqueros looks colorful to me. The mural with fresh color impressed me when I first looked at that. In my opinion, that Siqueros’s mural includes many metaphors, such as the American eagle, the Mayan structure, and the cross. The most important social and historic aspects to me is, as a Mexican artist, Siqueros did the significant mural with political meaning at that time, which was obvious going to receive the outrage from the city. Siqueros’s way to post his political idea through murals, and his drawing technique influenced later artists. Siqueros’s “América Tropical” has a similar purpose with Rosenqist’s F-111, which expressed artists’ political idea from their work. Siqueros’s mural seems bigger tham F-111, and it seems directly against groups at that time instead of satire.

    • Very insightful reading of the symbolism and the context of the mural. I like your contrast of the two in tone – direct critique or satire. One may be more effective or obvious to the audience but it can also cause the work to be removed!

  2. The most interesting aspects of the creation of the siquieros mural is how he decided to not do what he was asked to do and expressed what he believed by spray painting his mural in the middle of the night. It is also interesting how the white wash preserved the mural. I think it was important that he decided to paint what he believed in and his bravery made it possible for him to get the message across. Siquieros influenced other artists to create graffiti with spray paint. América tropical and F-111 both portray strong political messages but siquieros’ mural is darker and was not socially accepted.

    • I think his independence made him a kind of artistic hero to a lot of American artists at the time and even though the mural was covered up, the reputation of it grew. Your point about the socially accepted nature of F-111 is a good one because even though he was critiquing the society, he was doing it on their terms in the art world system. He was more subtle and therefore more accepted.

  3. To me, the most interesting aspect of this mural was the political aspect. I thought it was so cool that even though siqueros was commissioned to paint a lie in showing America as a beautiful paradise, he did what was right and painted America how it actually was. He made a political statement and was punished for it by having his mural painted over. (Luckily it didn’t destroy it.). During that time in American history racism was a large part of society and siqueros wanted to protest. Rosenquist was protesting war and consumerism. They both used art to protest a problem they saw in American politics, culture, and society. Siqueros influenced other artists, specifically graffiti artists, because he invented spray paint.

    • Nice contrast of the two. Each in their own was was breaking boundaries and protesting with their political art. Siqueiros made some radical departures in media. He carried this further in his Auditorio – which you should definitely see if you go to Mexico City.

  4. To me, the most interesting aspect of the mural was the irony. The very act that tried to silence Siqueros was what allowed his work to survive until today. His voice is being heard even now thanks to the conservation project that’s saving his work of art. In the climate of the day, his mural was a bold and outspoken political jab at society’s norms. Siqueros influenced many graffiti artists, pioneering techniques that many others would copy. Both Siqueros’s mural and F-111 were pop art, and conveyed a political message. But they were painted using different techniques, and while Siqueiros’s message was blatantly clear, the F-111 required more interpretation.

    Siqueiros was commissioned to paint a lie, but had the courage to paint the truth.

    • Well put! And, I think his truth to his vision made him more inspiring to other artists rebelling against injustice through their art. Diego Rivera had a similar conflict with his mural commission for the Rockefeller Center. Because he wouldn’t remove the head of Lenin, Rockefeller had it painted over. So, Rivera went to Mexico and recreated it on a wall there!

  5. The most interesting aspect of the mural was that he didn’t paint what he was told. He painted the truth and not some lie that someone else wanted him to. He believed in what he was painting and wanted to express how he felt about the world. Siqueiros believed that American was natives. He didn’t want to paint white people and them so happy. He wanted to paint the natives becuase they were the real people of America. Siqueiros messed around with spray painting which caused many graffic artist to emerge. Rosenquist and Siqueros are very similiar in that they both had historical context and they both tell the truth. But Rosenquist likes to hide his message where Siqueros wanted people to know exaclty what his message it.

    • It’s interesting how Rosenquist hid his message in the glossy appeal of pop imagery to make it acceptable and Siqueiros stepped over the line of acceptability by his depiction of the indigenous Americans. His ethical honesty made him an artistic hero.

  6. I thought the most interesting part of the mural was the way in which he composed everything he thought was important, all of the small little symbols encompassing vast amounts of meaning and heart. I also enjoyed the media that was used, the types of paint and how even though spray paint is a messy media, it can also be used to show just how beautiful skill and heart alone can be. I believe his work influenced other artists mainly because of the type of passion that he was putting forth by composing. Even when the government took down his work, he continued to believe in his cause, and I think that encouraged and influenced more people that his style alone. I do see a bit of a connection between the two works, but they mainly appear the hold the same type of rebellious theme, wanting to compose something that was relevant to you and other people that could relate to it. In terms of political context, there is an endless amount. When a new country is formed, very often there are people in the land that said country wants. This has pretty much caused more death and prejudice than any other phenomenon in the world. During the founding of America we did something called the trail of tears, where we forced thousands of Native Americans off their land onto reservations, killing and making sick thousands of innocent people. So yeah, the social and political background is there in an interesting way.

    • Your points about his heartfelt impetus in the making of his art are important. It’s typical that governments want art to decorate and not remind us of their low points. It takes artists to tell the truth, especially when the past is amoral and despicable like the treatment of the Native Americans all across the U.S.

  7. The most interesting aspect of the mural, to me, was the courage it took to show the truth even if it wasn’t idyllic-as the truth rarely is. I admire the fact that Siqueiros took an oppurtunity that could have helped his reputation as a respectable artist among the elite, and used it instead to demonstrate the injustice and the irony the town he painted it in, stood for. Socially, and historically it is important because we are told “Never forget”. Without the memories of what happened, how do we learn from them? Siqueiros has created a piece of art to help us remember. His mural influence other artists to be radical and daring, and to speak out about something that mattered to them, despite its controversial content. Its connection to Rosenqist and other pop artists is the purpose of the art. It inspires you to think about the world around you and decide whether you want to shut your eyes to the truth or embrace the problems. Although pop art has a milder approach, and often is more interpretive than literal, they both make the viewer think.

  8. I find it interesting that he had no qualms about painting something that they were obviously going to hate. When this was panted there was an atmosphere of convenient amnesia concerning the not so distant past. The oppression was still going on but no one wanted to acknowledge it. Siqueros gave them a jab in the side that was definitely deserved. His mural and the F-111 both caused political shockwaves but Siqueros’ mural was commissioned and the F-111 was not. This makes Siqueros’ mural the bigger slap in the face. They were paying him to paint something specific and he painted something else. They just made the mistake of being too vague. He did technically paint what they asked for but definitely not what they wanted.

    • I love the phrase “convenient amnesia” and your visuals like “jab in the side” and slap in the face”. It is a such a good way to summarize and relate the dynamics of the situation. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how he crossed over the implied line by being true to his conscience. If they had recognized the role of conscience in art, they might have had a more explicit contract.

  9. I think the most interesting part of the mural is that the artist is showing what he believes in and is not being scared by the officials and they will do and what they did do like put him in jail. I think that is crazy, but is also smart to have a religious and a slightly bad outlook on America. This mural opened up the public eyes so they could see what was really happening. He inspired other artists because he used spray paint and this started a whole reign of graffiti artists. The f-111 and the mural both caused political uproars but the mural was commissioned and the f-111 was not.

    • It’s a good distinction to note the freedom an artist has when a mural is commissioned and when it is not. Because Siqueiros took the freedom to express his conscience even though it was not guaranteed in a commissioned work, he increased the impact and reputation of the work by painting his truth.

  10. I agree with FiddleGirl, the political aspect is the most striking. The almost satirical subject matter and the crude and bold style are hallmarks of graffiti and mural artists today. The most important thing about it in a historical and social context is that he could have been, (and was) punished for expressing himself. I have already talked about how his work effected other mural artists. The connection between F-111 and this is that they both have a political statement and don’t beat around the bush or cover anything up while stating it.

    • Siqueiros liked pushing boundaries for his passionate sense of truth. It’s a wonder to me that the people who commissioned the work didn’t see this coming? Didn’t they know what kind of artist he was in Mexico?

  11. An interesting aspect of the mural was the use of different textures and feels. Most of the painting felt and looked smooth and polished. However, the black rectangles beside the cross looked a little more rough and out of position as if they were taken from another artwork. It felt a little awkward, but I liked the added dimension and tone to the mural. I think the mural was very influential. Artists have tried to emulate his style and the Getty Conservation Institute has worked on restoring the piece. Siqueiros seemed like he was daring, since he was jailed. I think his artwork show’s a more rebellious and dark side. But just as Siqueiros was censored, so have his painting been.

    • A lot of artists like to make reference to other art works and it often adds to their meaning, putting it into a visual context and disrupting the status quo. It takes courage to be willing to be jailed for your artwork. You have to have strong convictions that you are speaking the truth.

  12. I’m amazed by the courage required to paint something he knew his patrons would hate. Remaining true to your convictions in the face of all social incentives is a rare and powerful trait. I thought it was interesting that whitewashing the mural actually helped preserve it. Siqueros helped start a movement of protest art, an artistic tradition which Rosenquest continues in F-111. Certainly Rosenquest was a little more subtle in his message though.

  13. How he confronted politics in many different ways, not only how he did his paintings but where he put them, was very interesting. i think the most important aspect was the beginning of this new city that became a sort of playground. he influenced others with the use of spray paint. and both siqueros and the f-111 confronted political topics but very different ones.

  14. The most interesting aspect was that he didn’t care about the fact that he could go to jail or that he wasn’t doing the “right” thing. He had a lot of courage and believed in him self. He did not paint what he was told to paint. He also sort of painted how America actually was and not what it wanted to be, if that be makes sense. America tropical and F-111 both portray strong political messages, but Siqueros’s message was clear while the F-111 required more thought.

  15. Siqueros’ bravery sticks out to me when regarding his infamous mural. Despite knowing he would likely be punished for his art, Siqueros persisted, and decided to paint what he thought needed to be painted. America Tropical is similar to F-111, and indeed much of similarly politcially-minded art, in that it is created to reflect a radical message. Both works influenced generations of artists to push their own social limits and create art that makes people think.

  16. I thought it was kind of ironic that when they were trying to get rid of the painting they actually preserved it. It was important socially because there were lots of Mexican immigrants in the area and it was painted by a Mexican immigrant. Siqueiros influenced graffiti artists and muralists by using spray paint. This mural is similar to Rosenqist F-111 because in America Tropical the eagle was meant to represent America doing something wrong and I think Rosenqist is also criticizing America’s choices.

    • Actually, Siqueiros was a Mexican invited to do this mural as a visitor because he had such a reputation in Mexico. It is amazing to me that they didn’t foresee the political nature of his art.He was never the kind of artist who would do simply a decorative mural.

  17. Siqueiros’s work inspired artists to take a stand for what they believe in, not to think about what others believe and make ground shattering art that makes people think. It also furthered the idea that art doesn’t need to be beautiful. His art sometimes contains dark imagery that could be considered disturbing to some people, but despite this is easy to appreciate from an artistic perspective. F-111 took inspiration from the mural’s way of being accessible to all people regardless of who they were. However, Siqueiros’s work is smoother and more of an artistic rendering of a situation rather than a copy of things in the modern world.

  18. Siquero’s work lead the idea hat art can represent an idea, emotion or concept and that it doesn’t have to conform to the ideas set down by previous artists. He also lead the idea that art should be accessible to everyone. He also embodied the concept of using disturbing shapes and tones, suggesting and encouraging interpretation. He was the first to believe that art should make people think, he believed that it should appeal to the brain as well as the eye. This is important because it allows for a wave of self expression, it contributed greatly to the events in the 1960s.

  19. I love how Siqueiros deliberately ignored instructions when painting “América Tropical” in order to prove a point. His mural was a protest against American imperialism and ethnic prejudice, and while it sparked an uproar in high society of Los Angeles, it also inspired the artists of the Cesar Chavez movement, namely Chicano muralists.

    Both “América Tropical” and “F-111” were commenting American corruption–Rosenquist horrified that the middle class was supporting the creation of such a destructive weapon, and Siqueiros commenting on American racism toward Latinos and indigenous peoples.

  20. The most interesting part of the mural was that he painted what he thought he should paint and not what he was told to do. The most important aspects to me about the social and historic context is that he painted political messages that were not popular because they were the truth. Siqueros and his mural influenced other artists by starting to use graffiti art with spray cans. Both pictures have to do with political times and how the artists behind them felt about the current times. They differ in the fact that the F-111 is a lot bigger and uses more pictures than paintings.

    • You’re right, Siqueiros’ work was not popular because it was true. But it makes me wonder, is the reverse true? If art is popular, is it not true? Definitely it’s food for thought when we think of film. Yet, in thinking of Rosenquist, he was able to seduce his audiences with pop imagery and slip in the truth while engaging through the glossy images. Although he was accepted by the art world he certainly didn’t have the appeal of other pop artists work like Warhol, who most of the time was about surfaces and visual entertainment. So maybe truth is not as popular and blatant truth is really unpopular….but many artists have to be true to their conscience and that is their whole reason for making art.

  21. What I think is most important about Siqueiros’ mural, “América Tropical”, is that he did something unexpected because it was what he felt. People sometimes don’t like to hear the truth though, especially if it casts a poor impression of them, which was clearly the main impetus for having the mural covered. Grafiti artists were greatly inspired by his revolutionary use of spraypaint in his mural. Rosenquist’s F-111 is similar in that it also reflects a darker side of life without sugarcoating it like the media does. However, Rosenquist’s work was more accepted because it was more generally a satire on war, and not heavily focused on one group like Siqueiros’.

  22. In my opinion, I think the most interesting aspect is that Siqueiros found a way–drawing(mural) to represent his opinion, his protest instead of talking. What’s more, for the society, the “América Tropical” he drew well reveals the injustice between people, shows the racism during this time period. Besides, I think Siqueiros’s Satire style and his techniques influence later artists to well reflect the political, social problems. And to connect with Rosenqist’s F-111, I think they both reflect the problem in politics and society. However, they are also different. I think the “América Tropical” that Siqueiros drew shows his protest more directly. For example, there is American eagle in the mural, and everyone knows this eagle stand for America. And also, there is a Mayan temple crumbling in the background. It just makes people who see it quickly understand. Moreover, the “América Tropical” is shows the racism during this time. However, Rosenqist’s F-111 represents the war problem in that period.

  23. I also thought that a interesting aspect of this mural was the political aspect. I thought it was pretty cool that even though siqueros was commissioned to paint a lie in showing America as a beautiful paradise, he did what was right and painted America how it actually was. He was the first to believe that art should make people think, he believed that it should appeal to the brain as well as the eye. This is important because it allows for a wave of self expression, it contributed greatly to the events in the 1960s.

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