Le bock (Beer Glass)

Diego Rivera

Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886 - Mexico City, Mexico, 1957

Diego Rivera received a study grant to travel to Europe in 1907. After an initial stay in Madrid, he settled in Paris, where he came into contact with the principal representatives of the artistic avant-garde. A few years later, in response to the run-up to the war, Rivera moved to Spain, as would other artists previously residing in the French capital, for the same reasons. The part of his oeuvre centred on Cubist praxis primarily dates from his time in Spain, although the foundation and pictorial ideology for this type of work had been established earlier through viewing and analysing the creations of the major architects of Cubism: Picasso, Braque and Juan Gris. Rivera almost tiptoes through the analytical stage of the Cubist movement, instead sticking more closely to Synthetic Cubism, in which an iconographic selection of earlier representations is introduced with the aim of making the motif easier to read. In this context, it is worth noting his preference for bright hues, rather than the typical “muted” colours used by Picasso and Braque. In fact, lively colours could already be found in some of the most successful Cubist compositions of Juan Gris, specifically those done in 1915. The most noteworthy is the brilliant Nature morte et paysage, Place Ravignan (Still Life before an Open Window, Place Ravignan), in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. However, these vibrant compositions have been quite overlooked until recently, taking a back seat to the artist’s more sombre still lifes. In contrast, Rivera’s painting Le bock (Beer Glass, 1917) is bursting with colour. Its intense blue and orange tones stand in counterpoint to the small areas created using the Pointillist style, another homage by the Mexican artist to the personal Cubist methods of Juan Gris.

Paloma Esteban Leal