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Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna
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More about Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna

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This Diego Rivera painting was panned by critics at a Cubist exhibition.

Those artist-types get really incensed about the craft. Before galavanting off to Europe to muddle in modernist malarkey, Diego Rivera spent seven years at the National School of Fine Arts in Mexico. Though he was schooled in traditional fine arts and practiced oil painting as all good Western artists do, Rivera would eventually become politically radical and paint frescoes dedicated to the labor movement in North America.

Rivera painted the Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna in 1915, during the Cubist years. Ramón Gómez de la Serna was a Spanish literary figure, with whom Rivera was friends. By de la Serna’s own account, he was allowed to move around, write, and go for walks while Rivera painted the portrait. De la Serna is best known for inventing the literary genre greguería while he lived in Paris. A greguería is essentially a humorous and metaphoric surrealist sentence. So kind of a decontextualized one-liner. I encourage any reader to surreptitiously insert a greguería into a casual conversation with friends and see if any of them are up-to-speed on their Spanish avant-garde writers.

The painting Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna was displayed as part of Madrid’s first radically modernist exhibition, organized by de la Serna himself (named “The Integral Painters” or “Los Pintores Integros”). The exhibition caused quite a stir! Spanish art critics panned the exhibition faster than contemporary film critics panned Michael Bay’s Transformers sequels. Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna was displayed in the window of the exhibition gallery, but the public found it so disturbing that the police ordered the gallery to remove it. Personally, I would consider that a compliment.

Despite a rocky start to his artistic career, Diego Rivera would go on to have lucrative public art commissions and a high-profile romance with Frida Kahlo. Huzzah!

Sources

Sources

  1. Anderson, Virginia Billeaud. “Diego Rivera’s 1915 Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna - A Closer Look.” The Great God Pan is Dead. Last modified June 12, 2012. Accessed July 21, 2019. http://www.thegreatgodpanisdead.com/2012/06/diego-riveras-1915-portra
  2. Favela, Ramon. Diego Rivera: The Cubist Years, 1913-1917. Phoenix: Phoenix Art Museum, 1984.
  3. Spanish Books. “The Life of Ramon Gomez de la Serna.” Last modified 2011. Accessed July 21, 2019 https://www.classicspanishbooks.com/20th-cent-ramon-de-la-serna.html
  4. Wolfe, Bertram D. The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera. New York: Stein and Day, 1984.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna

The Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna in cubist style, is a painting made by Mexican artist Diego Rivera of Spanish writer Ramón Gómez de la Serna. It is exhibited in the MALBA in Buenos Aires.

The portrain was painted in 1915 in oil on canvas technique, its measure is 109.6 x 90.2 cm The figure, in the center of the composition, is shown fragmented into several planes of color and is represented from different conceptual points.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Portrait of Ramón Gómez de la Serna.

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