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Diego Rivera

National Portrait Gallery
Diego Rivera is remembered for his public art and murals in Mexico and the United States. During the late 1920s and the 1930s, he painted monumental and powerful murals for public buildings, including a twenty-seven-panel fresco called Detroit Industry for the Detroit Institute of Arts. His 1933 mural for Rockefeller Center was canceled when he included among its portraits one of Lenin. Rivera was well known in the United States by the time he created this self-portrait. It is one of numerous lithographs he produced as a means of supporting himself while working on more time- consuming projects. The lively crosshatching strokes used to model the contours of his face relate directly to the technique he employed in his monumental murals. Notably, this image was used by several major newspapers to accompany his obituary, and thus, in significant ways, it is how the American public often pictured him.

Diego Rivera es recordado por sus obras de arte público y sus murales en México y Estados Unidos. Entre las décadas de 1920 y 1930 pintó murales de impactante monumentalidad para edificios públicos estadounidenses, entre ellos un fresco de veintisiete paneles llamado Detroit Industry (Detroit Institute of Arts). Su mural de 1933 para el Rockefeller Center fue cancelado cuando incluyó entre los represen- tados a Lenin. Para la fecha en que creó este autorretrato, Rivera era ya muy conocido en Estados Unidos. La obra es una de numerosas litografías que produjo para ganarse la vida mientras trabajaba en proyectos de más largo alcance. El vigoroso sombreado a rayas con que moldea los contornos de su rostro remite directamente a la técnica que empleaba en sus grandes murales. Cabe notar que esta imagen fue utilizada por varios periódicos importantes para acompañar su obituario y por lo tanto, de manera significativa, es así como lo recuerda el público estadounidense.

Frida and Diego Rivera

Catalog of American Portraits

John Finerty

National Portrait Gallery
The heroic humanism of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera's powerfully drawn figures affected not only the American mural movement but figural art in general. In this portrait of American lawyer John F. Finerty, the bold outline, profile pose, and low vantage point combine to create a mural-like monumentality. Finerty espoused causes congenial to Rivera's social activism. His clients included labor leader Tom Mooney, anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, and convicted spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, whose last writ of habeas corpus he prepared and argued the night of their execution. Rivera met Finerty in Mexico in 1937, where the lawyer, as part of a commission investigating trials of political dissidents in the Soviet Union, interviewed the exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. The drawing was probably made at Rivera's home, where Trotsky was living at the time.

Jean Charlot (with Zohmah Charlot)

National Portrait Gallery
Jean Charlot’s career as an artist, writer, and professor spanned several decades and multiple countries. He studied art in Paris before the outbreak of World War I, and in 1921, after the war had ended, he moved to Mexico, the birthplace of his maternal grandfather. While there, he absorbed local art traditions and worked alongside Diego Rivera and other members of the Mexican avant-garde. Charlot moved in circles with other visiting artists, too, including the American photographer Edward Weston who lived in Mexico between 1923 and 1926.

Weston took this photograph of Charlot and Zohmah Day, in 1933, when the couple was visiting him in Carmel, California. By then, Charlot had settled in New York City, where he helped foster the burgeoning American muralist tradition, through his art and through his research and criticism. Charlot taught at a number of American institutions before becoming a professor of art at the University of Hawaii in 1949.

La carrera de Jean Charlot como artista, escritor y profesor abarcó varias décadas y múltiples países. Estudió arte en París antes de que estallara la Primera Guerra Mundial, y en 1921, después de la guerra, se trasladó a México, país natal de su abuelo materno. Allí absorbió las tradiciones del arte local y trabajó junto a Diego Rivera y otros miembros de la vanguardia mexicana. Frecuentaba también a otros artistas visitantes, como el fotógrafo estadounidense Edward Weston, quien vivió en México entre 1923 y 1926.

Weston tomó esta fotografía de Charlot y Zohmah Day en 1933, cuando la pareja lo visitó en Carmel, California. Para entonces Charlot se había radicado en la ciudad de Nueva York, donde ayudó a promover la floreciente tradición muralista del país, tanto con su obra artística como con sus investigaciones y trabajo de crítica. Charlot impartió clases en varias instituciones estadounidenses antes de aceptar un puesto como profesor de arte en la Universidad de Hawái en 1949.

Chauve-Souris (program)

National Portrait Gallery

Cocoanut Grove Caricature Dress

National Portrait Gallery
After caricaturist Ralph Barton published an illustration in Vanity Fair highlighting the film-world elite dining at Hollywood's legendary Cocoanut Grove restaurant, the design was chosen for an Americana series of silk fabrics. One young flapper chose the Cocoanut Grove silk to make into this simple frock. Famous profiles of John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Eddie Cantor pop out of the picture; Charlie Chaplin scurries in late; film industry regulator Will Hays serves as the maître d'hôtel. The dress, still stained from its partygoing career, undoubtedly evoked for its owner the tempo, glamour, and theatricality of metropolitan life. To her elders, though, it must have seemed shockingly revealing of arms and legs.

Inauguration of FDR

National Portrait Gallery
With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, no president has ever taken office against a darker backdrop than Franklin D. Roosevelt did on March 4, 1933. With banks failing and unemployment at 28 percent, a total national collapse seemed possible, and the day’s gray weather only reinforced the bleak mood. The carefully chosen words of Roosevelt’s inaugural speech, however, briefly lifted the gloom, and when he broke into a confident smile at the close, the crowd cheered in relief. The optimism of that moment grew in the coming months as Roosevelt’s New Dealers launched a series of innovative measures to end the Great Depression.

Mexican caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias produced this rendering of Roosevelt’s inauguration for Vanity Fair, which billed it as a panorama of “magnificos, diplomats, and military commanders.” In the lower right is the doleful “Forgotten Man,” wearing a sandwich board—a grim reminder of the country’s dire straits.

Excepto Abraham Lincoln, ningún presidente había asumido el cargo con un país en condiciones tan nefastas como las que enfrentó Franklin D. Roosevelt el 4 de marzo de 1933. Con los bancos en quiebra y una tasa de desempleo del 28 por ciento, la posibilidad de un derrumbe nacional era real, y el día nublado contribuía a ensombrecer los ánimos. Sin embargo, el cuidadoso fraseo del discurso inaugural logró mitigar la pesadumbre brevemente. Al final del mensaje, el presidente desplegó una sonrisa llena de confianza y el público lo vitoreó con alivio. El optimismo de ese momento creció en los meses siguientes con la implantación de las medidas innovadoras del New Deal, dirigidas a poner fin a la Gran Depresión.

El caricaturista mexicano Miguel Covarrubias produjo esta imagen de la toma de posesión de Roosevelt para la revista Vanity Fair, que describió el evento como un panorama de “magníficos, diplomáticos y líderes militares”. En la parte inferior derecha se ve al afligido “hombre olvidado” con un panel-sándwich, un triste recordatorio de la terrible situación del país.