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Diego Rivera

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Trabajador portuario ruso [Russian Dock Worker]

20th century
17 cm x 20.2 cm (6 11/16 in. x 7 15/16 in.)

Diego Rivera (Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886 - 1957, Mexico City) Primary

Object Type: drawing
Artist Nationality: Latin America, Mexican
Medium and Support: Watercolor and graphite on graph paper
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1986
Accession Number: 1986.74

This small watercolor sketch dates to Diego Rivera’s trip to the Soviet Union in 1927–1928. He went there as head of the Mexican Labor Delegation to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Rivera’s watercolors from this trip are justly celebrated—the Rockefeller family purchased a sketchbook of his scenes from a military parade that is today in The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Russian Dock Worker shows Rivera at his best: as a sensitive observer of everyday labor. The large body mass of the worker, whose facial features are barely visible, provides a convincing impression of men engaged in heavy manual labor in a harsh climate. Rivera’s enthusiasm for Soviet communism would soon wane as he became increasingly critical of Joseph Stalin, and his sympathy for Leon Trotsky eventually brought about his expulsion from the Communist Party. Through small intimate works like this, we can get a clear sense of Rivera’s deep respect for the everyday conditions of the working class, something that can be harder to distinguish in his large heroic murals or his more sentimental and populist portraits.

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