Diego Rivera at the MoMA

I’m a member of the MoMA.  And one of the reasons why I became a member is because I’m a huge fan of Diego Rivera.  He had the second solo exhibition at the MoMA in 1931-1932 and 80 years later, his murals from that show are now on display.  Entitled Murals for The Museum of Modern Art, I went to see his exhibition on MLK day.  One of my pet peeves is crowded museums (and crowded subways, crowded stores, etc etc) but I thought that it was worth going and besides, I plan on going at least a few more times.

I downloaded the MoMA app for the iPhone and let me tell you, it is one amazing app.  It’s very interactive and useful.  I never was a fan of audio tours but this app also includes the audio for the show, and it was the best way to ignore and forget about the crowd.

The paintings were amazing.  But due to the massive crowd, I thought it would be best to take in those monumental pieces on a quiet day.  I focused on the information about fresco paintings as I didn’t know much about the process.  As explained in the blurred image I took at the exhibition, Rivera went to Italy to study the fresco technique.  The application of layers of cement and fresco mortar (aged lime putty and marble dust) was used during the Italian Renaissance.  As the murals from that period exist today in pretty good condition, it shows that fresco is a way of making murals durable and long lasting.  What I found most fascinating about the fresco technique was the term, giornata.  Meaning day in Italian, it refers to the area of the fresco painting that can be completed in a day.  In the same image below, MoMA shows how Rivera painted Agrarian Leader Zapata in three days.  He was clever enough to hide the transitions of layer applications along the outlines of figure and objects in the painting.  Reminds me of how tattoo artists cover up previous tattoos with a new ones (photos courtesy of OG Tattoos).


Going to see this exhibition is a must but if you won’t be in NYC before it closes on May 14, The MoMA’s interactive website on this exhibition can be viewed here.  Rivera’s approach to fresco is further explained here.  It also points out what buildings are represented in the mural, Frozen Assets. Quite helpful!


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