Diego Rivera: “Detroit Industry” I was very intrigued by “Detroit Industry”, a massive mural painted by Mexican Muralist Diego Rivera. The artist depicts a part of history, considering both the working conditions within a major automobile factory of the era and a glimpse of social and political issues on the enormous mural. The “Detroit Industry” mural consists of twenty-seven panels, and stretches up to twenty-two feet high and seventy-three feet wide; which took eleven months to complete.
I sensed life, energy and power as Rivera accomplishes the role as an artist by making brilliant decisions and choices. After analyzing the painting, I was able to depict the real meaning and made a real connection. The mural represents the engine and transmission production for the 1932 Ford V8 at the Ford River Rouge factory in Detroit, MI employing over 100,000 people. Diego Rivera seems to have allowed his fascination with the high production of the power of technology inspire his work. The meaning of the mural challenges society and stirs up controversy and raises issues of class and politics.
Many people objected Rivera’s work as he painted workers of different races working side by side Even the commissioning of the artist caused a stir; which was financed by Henry Ford’s son, Edsel Ford. Plus the country was in the midst of the Great Depression and many questioned why a Mexican artist was chosen over an American artist. Today, a sign above the entrance of the Rivera Court reads “If we are proud of our city’s achievements, we should be proud of these paintings and not lose our heads over what Rivera is doing in Mexico today. ”
The inner workings of the Detroit Industry illustrate a story of a precise and organized production factory. He makes a point by pointing out the relation between man and machines. In the two big panels, the North and South Walls, Rivera portrays the Detroit industry. In the other two, the elements that make up our industrial development. The top of the side walls signifies the four races that have helped form the American culture. The North Wall has the Indian holding in her hands the iron and the copper elements forming in the earth underneath her, natural products important to the industry.
On the right, the Black woman holds coal. The upper right and left panels represent man’s technical knowledge. The right-hand panel shows the development and use of vaccines from cattle, sheep and horses. The left-hand panel shows scientist making poisonous gases for combat. The middle center represents the industry, men working together in the production and assembly of motors. The South Wall has the other two races. On the left, the White race, and on the right side the Indian race. They hold in their hands limestone and sand.
At the left end is the demonstration of the production of pharmaceutical products. On the right side, chemicals are being made. In the main middle panel, the final frame and body assembly. The giant press, which stamp out the cars’ bodies, resembles a robot. The West Wall carries the theme of transportation and mechanical power. The figures of birds and the motors of planes are seen on the top. On the side of the door, two long panels show tanks and turbines; which symbolize the making of steam power. Pictures of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison are painted at the foot of the turbines.
At the top corners of the East Wall are two female figures which represent agriculture. In the middle panel, forms of animal and plant life, soil and fossils are shown. The artist accomplishes the role of a great artist through the choices and decisions he made while freely expressing the beauty of art and its components. The artist uses a unique representation of lines, form, space, balance, color and harmony. One of the many ways in which the artist uses lines in this mural is through the curves and angles of the panels.
Also, the artist uses a different variety of lines as the curves and angles turn into straight lines as well. The form of the “Detroit Industry” is a two-dimensional square structure, illustrated by real-life interpretations. The artist uses four walls to express his interpretations of the automobile force in Detroit. Space is demonstrated in the artist’s work as he divides the mural into four walls, the north wall, south wall, west wall, and east wall. A selection of hues is used in his work, which creatively blends in a harmonizing manner. In the first panel, harmony is revealed through the use of color.
The artist uses light and dark to meet at the center with flourish. While the right panel can seem motionless, the right side of the panel indicates movement with the use of harmony. In conclusion, Diego Rivera is one of the greatest mural painters of all time. Rivera depicted the mass production industry, which made Detroit famous all over the world and contributed much to the welfare of the country. I was truly inspired by the artist’s depiction of the automobile industry that created many opportunities for many races during the Great Depression.
The artist uses the formal elements to create his artwork such as lines, form, shape, balance, color and harmony. The enormous mural that flow with intense decisions and choices can inspire many just as well as it inspires me. Different methods of art mean diverse things to different people. To me, Diego Rivera’s mural, Detroit Industry, is truly an unusual painting. It helps me understand the struggle and the past of the city I call home, the Motor City. Sources: 1. Aquilar
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