David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)
David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)

Accidente en la mina

David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)
Accidente en la mina
signed and dated 'A. Siqueiros--Taxco 1931' upper right
pencil and ink on paper
8¼ x 13½in. (21 x 34.2cm.)
Drawn in 1931
Private collection, Paris
Instituto Nacional de Buenos Aires, Siqueiros, Mexico, 1951, p. 26, n.n. (illustrated)
Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Portrait of a decade 1930-1940 - David Alfaro Siqueiros, 1997, p. 134, fig. 57 (illustrated)

Lot Essay

In 1930, Siqueiros was imprisoned for the first time as a political dissident; he was considered a social agitator as a result of his voluble and continued support of railway workers, his attempts at worker organization, and his volatile involvement in the Communist Party of Mexico. He envisioned himself as an "artist soldier" and this posture is an inescapable element of all of his work. Siqueiros, the youngest of the original syndicate of the muralists, was its most ardent adherent to its political aims. He continually believed in the ability of progressive visual representation to entice revolutionary action. He was released from prison in 1931, but placed under a circumstantial house arrest in the picturesque hill town of Taxco, where he was only allowed to leave with permission of local officials.

During his yearlong residence in Taxco, Siqueiros kept away from the politics he so adored and that had often taken him from his work. Siqueiros turned to his art with an intensity not previously experienced. Over one hundred paintings were completed during this "exile", some of his most important and recognized non-mural format pieces, including Madre proletaria, Madre campesina, and Accidente en la mina. Even in a smaller scale his works were intent on displaying the plight of the proletariat. A profound melancholy permeates these works that illustrate the poor and broken state of the working class. They are simple and emotive, not portraits of specific people they are portraits of a state of being, a collective portrait of social injustice.

Most likely inspired by his earlier experiences with miners in Jalisco, Accidente en la mina depicts three workers pulling debris off of their crushed companion. The strong horizontality and close-up format add to a sense of urgency and confinement, the viewer is in the fray of the scene as there is no free space from which to view passively. There is both an extreme urgency and tenderness in the comrades actions, as well as helplessness in their naked forms and evident weight of the rocks they must lift from the prostate body. The action has actually passed, the rocks have already fallen, now the cleanup and eventuality are left, there is little hope for any of the miners as one knows the scene is not uncommon.

The drawing for the painting Accidente en la mina is one of few of its kind in existence to be identified. In the drawing, the fundamental tenants of Siqueiros' style are evident and the tools which he used to lay the foundation for the impressive painting are clear: an underlying geometry, the use of structuring weighted lines, voluminous forms of substantial weight are emphasized with shadow, the interlocking of the figures and the repetition of a shared action. These devices are used not just here but throughout his oeuvre. This exquisite drawing illustrates the architectural nature, the premeditated science, of developing the structure and massing needed to impart the emotional tremulance common to his work. The drawing is not only important due to its relation to the seminal painting Accidente en la mina but also to all of Siqueiros work as this shows the process of consolidation of technique experienced by Siqueiros during this time of enormous output in Taxco.

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