Of Murals, Frescos, and the Common Man

On the left here you see Agrarian Leader Zapata, a fresco by Diego Rivera, which I also saw at the MoMA. Emiliano Zapata was one of the leaders in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. What we see here is a leader who leads from the front and is not clothed or armed in any way that is different from his soldiers, which contributes to the image of equality. The general is not in any way superior to the men, he is one of them. This clearly connects to the socialist themes prevalent throughout the Mexican Revolution. Diego Rivera also personally joined the Communist Party, which would help to explain why he created art in this style.  A Communist would not put leaders above the people they lead.

The Arsenal, another work by Diego Rivera, is a great example of the style that emerged during the Mexican Revolution. In this mural we do not see the usual politician or God. We see the common people being armed and marching out for some sort of common purpose, the hammer and sickle more than clearly explain what that purpose might be. The story has shifted, it is no longer about the powerful men, it is now a story of the common man rising up. That idea, however, is usually very politically useful to the men behind the scenes.



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