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The Flower Carrier Analysis

Introduction

Diego Rivera was a master of using paintings to express his ideas and beliefs. In his life, he unflaggingly sought to bring a meaning in the Mexican culture and his life through visual arts and writings. This brought into existence a visual identity that the Mexicans would identify with and in consequence inadvertently created a mythology of a Mexican society that was in many ways synonymous with his life.  Rivera’s artistic work always referenced these people in both the style and subject and the average people of Mexico were given a status. Yet, what makes Rivera’s works iconic and salient is the political messages that he meticulously crafted with his artistic work. These messages and his communist ideologies are particularly obtrusive in The Flower Carrier, a painting that is arguably his magnum opus. Accordingly, this exposition analyses The Flower Carrier whilst also identifying its significance in the popular culture. 

The Flower Carrier as an Icon

The Flower Carrier, originally known in Spanish as the Cargador de Flores was created in 1935. The painting is a paragon of simplicity and symbolism which is exuded by the vivacious colors that are painted in the Masonite. The painting displays a man- apparently a peasant- in a yellow sombrero and a white clothing struggling to carry a basket of flowers shouldered to his back with a yellow rope. A woman, arguably the man’s wife, stands behind him as he tries to lift the basket. While the flowers are spectacularly beautiful to people, the man does appreciate their aesthetic qualities since the only value they have to him is the money they will bring when they are sold in the market. The geometric shapes of the painting provide intense albeit bold contrasts with each element exuding extreme individualism. 

There are different factors that make a piece of art iconic. To begin with, an iconic painting perfectly captures an event in an artistic manner. The Flower Carrier is iconic in this sense. The event that the painting tries to capture is the class struggles in the society which is illustrated by the peasant man and his wife. In other words, the painting is emblematic of Marx’s conflict theory. Secondly, an iconic piece of art is well recognized and referenced by a lot of people. The Flower Carrier is also iconic in this sense too. It has been prominently displayed in a number of films such as the Woman on Pier, the Prowler, and in a lonely place among other movies (Krutnik para 1). In certain instances also, the painting has been incorporated in images to emblematize political struggles that are otherwise unarticulated. Finally, an iconic work profoundly impacts public opinion. The Flower Carrier well resonated with the audience since it captured the turbulent class struggles that hitherto existed in the Mexican society at that time. For that reason, it intensely affected the thinking of people who started questioning the status quo. 

The Significance of the Painting and Its Rise to an Iconic Status

Mexico has tumultuously undergone long periods of revolutions and upheavals which are arguably a product of its many years of colonization by the Spanish. These instabilities in the political climate culminated in the Mexican Revolution which arose due to the unfair distribution of resources in the country, unwillingness to tolerate political timeserving individuals and the draconian laws that kept a huge number of Mexicans in indentured servitude on their lands. 

The 1930s highlighted these problems which were further exacerbated by the great recession which saw a lot of workers struggle for jobs in both Mexico and the US. Rivera perceived this struggle as a symbol of the delicate political framework of the capitalistic governments in the two states. A considerable number of Mexicans were searching for an escape root toward the US, which although was in a turmoil, offered greater relief. Rivera thus sought to address these issues in one painting.

He argues that art can be divided like the social classes in the society. There is the bourgeois art, the revolutionary art, the peasant art but never the proletariat art. The proletariats produce arts that highlights the struggles in the society but no class can create a magnificent art until it has attained its zenith in development. The working class reached its climax during the French Revolution and in consequence, created a piece of art that would express itself. If the proletariats would begin producing their pieces of art, the proletarian dictatorship in the erstwhile Mexican regimes would have fulfilled their mission liquidating the class disparities and bringing into existence a classless society (Rivera 51). Futuristic arts in Rivera’s perspective were, therefore, those not motivated by proletariats whims, but those that were guided by the tenets of communism. 

Rivera’s paintings such as The Flower Carrier were thus revolutionary. He, in fact, notes that “the man who is truly a thinker, or a painter who is truly an artist, cannot, at a given historical moment take any but a position in accordance with the revolutionary development of his own time. The social struggle is the richest, the most intense and most plastic subject which an artist can choose (51)” It is in this light that Rivera made sure that The Flower Carrier resonated with his philosophies and ideologies and made it a living part of his class struggle stances. By depicting an image of exploitative labor as a characteristic of capitalist societies, he made his painting readily tractable as a political rendition. As such, the painting politicized some representational aspects in the society while concurrently associating the exploitative nature of capitalism to women trapped by the outlooks of domesticity. 

Rivera’s The Flower Carrier celebrated popular agency highlighting the notion that a process was underway that would bring modernity and social equality in the country. Mexico’s tumultuous past was, therefore, a prelude to a larger-than-life destiny. This way, he was able to invigorate the Mexican spirit by bringing together, the past, the present, and the future. This visual art brought conceptual solutions to the prevailing problems in Mexico which left a permanent imprint in their national culture and the post-revolutionary museums that arose years after his death. The narrative style, populist iconography, and the realist aesthetic in The Flower Carrier created the didactics for future political artists who are relentless about exposing the class struggles in the society (Coffey 22). Rivera also created a sense of originality and appreciation of indigenous culture without having to copy European pieces of art. His paintings sought to root out the Mexican-American inferiority complex rampant among the Mexicans at that time. He believed in homegrown solutions to the Mexican problems which is why he depicted the characters in his images like the Mexicans. These inspirations were what was referred to as the Mexicanidad and the Indianismo (Coffey 24).

Finally, The Flower Carrier is among the Fresco paintings that have profoundly affected the universal craftsmanship arena. Fresco paintings have become a common element of highlighting human improvement and innovation that are apparent in Rivera’s ideologies. He bought this idea from Renaissance frescoes in Italy and used it to air Mexicans problems. All through the entire twentieth century, his popularity rose substantially and frescoes appreciation escalated in a similar degree (Coffey 26).

Conclusion

In closing, this paper extensively analyzed The Flower Carrier and identified its significance in popular culture. Additionally, the reason for its iconic status has been identified which include its ability to capture Mexican problems in an artistic manner, its reference by popular films and artists, and its profound impact to the general Mexican society and the universe. The Flower Carrier is indubitably a perfect prototype of a painting that is not only magnificent due to its aesthetic qualities, but also due to the messages that it highlights.  In spite of this, Rivera’s role as a political artist has sometimes been treated with skepticism. Arguments often arise that his persona was almost self-serving which led to his cultivation of a personal mythology. Nonetheless, the kind of persona that Rivera created requires an egomaniacal mix which can only be found in a patriotic and devoted painter such as him. The Flower Carrier exemplifies these qualities of national identity and empathy towards the downtrodden which makes it one of the most avant-gardist work of art. 

Works Cited

Coffey, Mary K. How a revolutionary art became official culture: Murals, museums, and the Mexican State. Duke University Press, 2012.

Krutnik, Frank. "" A living part of the class struggle": Diego Rivera's the flower carrier and the Hollywood left." (2007): 51-78.

Rivera, Diego. "The revolutionary spirit in modern art." Modern Quarterly 6.3 (1932): 53.

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