David Alfaro Siqueiros (Mexican, 1896-1974)
Gouache on board mounted on masonite, Unframed: 55.9 x 70.5 cm (22 x 27 3/4 in.). Gift of Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun 1995.175
Early in his career, Siqueiros condemned easel painting as bourgeois and anti-revolutionary. Small-scale paintings, he believed, did not benefit of the public in the way that large-scale murals did. Still, smaller works are an important part of Siqueiros' prolific artistic career. During the mid-1940s and early 1950s he used the small format to expand his thematic interests to landscapes, still-life, portraiture, and abstraction. Aware that such imagery conflicted with his more revolutionary paintings, he acknowledged their significance as independent works of art and as studies for murals.
While Strike on the Pier is not a study for a particular mural, it is true to the spirit of the socialist themes Siqueiros explored throughout his career. A confrontation between two masses of people, a common motif in the artist's work, is heightened by agitated water lapping at a narrow pier. Seen from high above, the tiny figures are stylized and non-specific. A sense of broad movement is conveyed by the forward thrust of the group on the right, about to attack the mob on the left with bayonets. The composition is further energized by the bright colors, painted over an ominous gray background tone, and the use of rapidly executed brushstrokes.
Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Museum of Art; June 9 - July 26, 1998. "Object in Focus: David Alfaro Siqueiros, Strike on the Pier."
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