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About David Alfaro Siqueiros Art Essay

The Sob

According to David Alfaro Siqueiros was a Mexican muralist and artist, political enthusiast, soldier and agitated student. He was born in 1896 in Chihuahua City, Mexico. “He had a historic militant life in Mexico following the assassination of President Madera. He was the leader of a group known as the Congress of Soldier Artists. He was a combatant in the Revolution and was promoted to captain. In 1919 Siqueiros went to Spain. While in Barcelona he started a magazine Vida Americana and also studied painting murals. In 1921 he returned to Mexico. In 1923 he was elected secretary general of Mexico's Revolutionary Painters, Sculptors and Engravers Union. The following year Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and Javier Guerrero started a weekly called El Machete that was sponsored by the union. El Machete would later become the official organ of Mexico's Communist Party” (Tuck, 2008).

This dramatic painting by Siqueiros is aptly called the Sob, because of the subject matter, a sobbing woman in a somber room. It was finished in 1939 and later it was donated anonymously to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. The medium of the Sob is acrylic on composite board and the measurements are 4 feet by 2 feet ½ inches. The style of the painting the Sob is painted in is expressionism. The painting is an extreme close view of a mother or sister with clenched fists in the midst of a very intense emotional breakdown. I tried finding out the name of the subject, but could not find any history on her. This painting is not what I would describe as realism, because there is quite a bit of distortion to the subjects hands and arms. It is a figurative depiction because the human form is used in the piece.

After studying more works by this artist it is very clear that you are viewing a painting by Siqueiros, the use of bold heavy lines are used to define the hands of the woman. The heavy brush strokes are powerful and emotional. The dark colors and especially the muted blues along with the natural skin tones and dark grays convey a dark sadness. Using these colors together, create a gloomy feeling that I can relate to. I am not happy about this use of color, but I am comfortable with it, and I think it conveys the sadness well. I have experienced many losses in my life and his use of colors for this painting is true, for me. The close view of the subject and larger than life size, draws the viewer in. The balance of the Sob is appropriate with the symmetrical space taken by the centered body of the woman and her arms and hands aligned in the painting.  The lines that her arms make, lead you from the bottom of her elbows up to her fists and then, what is hidden behind.  The darkness of the colors surrounding her in the background and lack of light shining on her tells me that it is evening or a darkened room. You can't see her eyes, but I can see with my mind's eye the sorrowful expression that is not painted.  The emphasis for me is on her tightly clenched fists and the hidden face that is behind them. There is unbearable sorrow and pain emphasized by her posture. The sobbing woman completely dominates the space the painting occupies, and even though there is no motion, it feels as though she is nearly falling out of the painting and into your arms. Siqueiros was a member of an assassination squad in Mexico and had history with killing and also saw his brother's of the Revolution killed. This may be a depiction showing of all the women that lost a husband, son, or brother during the fighting in Mexico. I am moved in a personal way by this work because I can relate to the idea of being so distraught over a loss or terrible happening, that being alone and releasing all the pain through a good sob will do. His portrayal is moving in the fact that we all suffer from loss in our life.   

Works Cited

Tuck, Jim. The Artist as Activist- David Alfaro Siqueiros.2008.Web http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/309-the-artist-as-activist-david-alfaro-siqueiros-1896%E2%80%931974>

http://www.moma.org>

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