Mechanization: Art and Technology in Siqueiros’s Production


David Alfaro Siqueiros

May 8 til August 10, 2014

Among all the artists of his generation, David Alfaro Siqueiros was the one to encourage and actually make use of new technologies and industrial materials in artistic production. For him, doing so was a condition to make concrete an authentic modern art, in his words: “Without modern technology, modern art can not exist.” From the beginning of the decade of the thirties, and up to his death in 1974, the muralist incoraported into his production processes industrial materials as duco or pyroxyline, cement, asbestos and various types of plastic; as well as technological tools like the air brush; photography—to create photomontages—; and electrical illumination. He also collaborated with some scientists, as the engineer Jose L. Gutiérrez from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, to manufacture new industrial materials suitable for his murals. In addition, during his work designing process, Siqueiros resorted to photographic and cinematographic images, aiming to achieve dynamic compositions designed for a mobile spectator—him who walks through space and drives around the city in a vehicle. The latter characteristic is a decisive proof of his modern character: Siqueiros seems to be the first artist of the 20th century in Mexico who would consider the transformations and changes within our perceptual field propelled by the appearance of certain technologies and modern mechanical means.

Besides being a central element of the design process, production and documentation of his works, technology was also crucial to the muralist’s creations when envisioned as a field of representation. The structures and industrial landscapes in most of his work seem like anticipatory images of a utopian society; whereas the workers—taking part in the industrial world—are represented with such vigor that their bodies seem to parallel the perfection and durability of machines. Also, by producing public works commissioned largely by the government, Siqueiros’s production can be understood as part of the government strategies for auto-representation, beyond the artist’s intentions.

The exhibition Mecanización. Arte y tecnología en la producción de Siqueiros wants to focus on the dual significance of such a relation: art and technology regarding production processes; as well as, art and technology in the field of representation.

Daniel Garza Usuabiaga