We are grateful to Prof. Irene Herner Reiss for her assistance cataloguing this work.
Depicted in this small yet extraordinary painting are such spaces as hanging cliffs, dense forests, and steep crevices that dive into infinite cavities—dangerous precipices, summits that drip with stains. Through a tumult of random colors, marks, scratches, stains, brushwork and drips—colored tones detail the composition creating a flexible support for the landscape. In 1936, in an apocalyptic manner, Siqueiros explored humanity’s relationship to overwhelming nature and man’s role as warrior and destroyer capable of unleashing the almost promethean energy of fire.
After working on studies such as this present lot, the artist’s vision led him to conceive the fiery cosmos that is Collective Suicide—and to depict the emptiness between heaven and air. In New York, before enlisting in the Republican forces to fight in the Spanish Civil War, he painted an explosion in the mountains near the Alcázar de Toledo where the horror of the bombing of Guernica and the beginning of the Second World War are referred to. This work is a prelude study for Collective Suicide also related to Volcán from the same year, due to its use of staining and dripping technique. Although a relatively small work, its monumentality is undeniable in scope and sentiment and recalls the words of English poet and artist William Blake in his Auguries of Innocence, “To see a World in a Grain of Sand...”
Irene Herner Reiss