17 March 2010

'Detroit Industry', the finest example of Mexican muralist work in the US!!!

'Detroit Industry', a series of 27 panels depicting industry at the Ford motor company is considered one of the greatest works of Mexican fresco artist, Diego Rivera, husband to artist, Frida Kahlo (A movie was made on the artist's life with the same name starring actress Salma Hayek)

Unveiled in the year 1933, it is considered as a national treasure & consists of 2 main panels on the North & South walls depicting labourers going about their work in the Ford Motor company. The other panels depict other advances made in fields of science, such as medicine and new technology. The meaning of these images is complex, a view of industry that challenges ideas about its role in society and raises issues of class and politics.The entire mural as a whole encompasses the idea that all actions and ideas are one, be it related to science or religion.
The work was surrounded by a lot of controversy even before it was made since it dealt with the conflict between Rivera's Marxist philosophy and Detroit as a developing industrial centre. The work also included religious icons albiet in a different setting & this caused it to be condemned by both the Catholic & Episcopalian clergy. For example, one panel on the North wall displays a Christ-like child figure with what appears to be a halo over its head. Surrounding it are livestock, a doctor and nurse giving the child a vaccination, and three men working on a lab experiment. This is believed to be a parody on the birth of Christ, with the scientists as the three wise men, and offended members of the religious community.
The controversy was not a deterrent but instead generated widespread publicity & enabled the work to become world famous. Rivera actually depicted the workers in harmony with their machines and thus as highly productive people. This view reflects both Karl Marx's begrudging admiration for the high productivity of capitalism and the wish of Edsel Ford, who funded the project, to have the Ford motor plant depicted in a favorable light.

Although I might go on & on about the work, its magificence needs to be seen to be believed, not only because of its theme & message but also because of the determination & creativity of the artist to single-handedly complete his work!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment