David Alfaro Siqueiros: The Activist Artist

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Project #1: Activist Art Research Paper
David Alfaro Siqueiros was a social realist painter known for his large murals in fresco. He was born in Chihuahua City in 1896 and by age fifteen David was already involved in artistic studies and political activism. Siqueiros was involved in direct political action more than most other artists. He was a sophisticated political ideologist who was involved in the political conflicts of the Mexican Revolution serving as a protestor, demonstrator, soldier and leader of an assassination squad. The type of art he produces are murals; he believed art should be public, educational, and ideological. He went probably the furthest of all the muralists in his attempts to combine his political views and aesthetic ideals with modern technical means to create a truly “public art”. Siqueiros was an activist in many different ways, controversy lies in his work, and he has many meanings of his work.

In 1911 Siqueiros led a student strike at San Carlos Academy, one designed to force changes in teaching methods, this strike lasted six months and ended in complete victory for students. Through his fellows, he soon became familiar with communist and anarchist writings, embittering him further against the upper middle class to which he himself belonged. Following that in 1913 he joined the anti-Huerta Constitutionalist movement and contributed to its newspaper, La Vanguardia. After serving four years as an active combatant during the Revolution, he attained the rank of a captain. Siqueiros than organized a group called Congress of Soldier Artists in 1918. He then published a magazine called Vida Americana in 1921. These play the roles of him being an activist because he is reporting his issues.

In 1924, Siqueiros finished work on The Burial of the Martyred Worker, also in the National Preparatory School, taking the bold step of painting a hammer-and-sickle on the coffin. This provoked outrage on the part of the students at the School,...
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