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Diego Rivera: Detroit Industry Murals [Hardcover]

Linda Downs
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

8 Mar 2000
Early in the Great Depression, Diego Rivera was commissioned by Edsel Ford to create a series of murals in the Detroit Institute of Arts, giant frescoes whose theme would be America's industrial might. This volume analyzes the results, and provides a look at Rivera and his wife, Frieda Kahlo. It includes chapters on the murals' planning and antecedents, Rivera's methods, and the public's response to the works.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (8 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393045293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393045291
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 30.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,132,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one tiny car... 10 Jan 2001
By A Customer
i like literature about art and this mural surely leaves a lot of room for interpretations. a lot of background information is provided in this book. for example, rivera insulting the fords because there's only one car in the picture, and it's tiny, too. or the fact that his wife frida kahlo had one of her numerous miscarriages there. if you're interested in details about works of art and their stories this surly is a book for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Viva Rivera, Viva Detroit! 26 Nov 2000
By Caroline C. Schaefer - Published on
For anyone who has ever been fascinated with Diego Rivera and his works, this is a wonderfully detailed guide to the Detroit Industry Murals. Readible either from cover-to-cover or in chapters, this book is filled throughout with photos, historic background, interviews and amazingly interesting details to all that went into the Detroit Industry Murals. Starting with other Rivera murals located across the United States, Downs leads into the situation of Henry Ford wanting a depiction of Detroit and the auto industry for a neglected garden gallery. A chapter details the fresco process used by Rivera during this immense project, and is skippable for those not interested in art technique. Another chapter details how Rivera and his wife, artist Fridah Kahlo, spend their time in the Motor City. The especially amazing introduction tells the story of how in 1979 Detroit Institute of Art staff found in a dusty closet the original "cartoons" (full size pencil sketches) that Diego Rivera had made during the planning and layout of the murals. Downs ends the book with reactions to the finished project, which ranged from churches outrage to extreme pride for the city's auto workers, which the work most positively depicted. Because of the artist's political convictions (Mexican communist) the murals were almost destroyed during the Cold War and had to be protected under armed guard. Detroit is the last place you would expect to find the masterpiece of the Mexican muralist movement's greatest son. Just like it's topic, this book is an amazing and unexpected masterpiece.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detroit: Then and Now 5 May 2009
By Janet Calle - Published on
In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Diego Rivera arrived in Detroit, where, at the behest of Henry Ford, he began murals celebrating the American worker on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Completed in 1933, the piece depicted industrial life in the United States, concentrating on the car plant workers of Detroit. Though the fresco was the focus of much controversy, Edsel Ford, Henry's son, defended the work and it remains today Rivera's most significant painting in The United States. Rivera provided the first inspiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's WPA program. Of the hundreds of American artists who would find work through the WPA , many continued on to address political concerns that had first been publicly presented by Rivera. Both his original painting style and the force of his ideas remain major influences on American painting. At this critical time in the auto industry, Rivera's murals dramatically detail the beginning.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left In Awe 10 Jan 2013
By Crabby Abby - Published on
My husband and I visited the DIA right before Christmas with the specific purpose of seeing a Faberge Egg Show and the Rivera Court. What we assumed would be a quick visit to the Rivera Court wasn't. I'm not normally someone who can spend a lot of time looking at one piece of art, but the Rivera Court isn't just a piece of art. It is a huge mural that covers four very long and high walls. It is politically charged and works with a lot of ideas stemming from the industrialization of society and the glaring consequences of discoveries and changes for the good and the bad of mankind. Within the tapestry of this continuous mural, odd elements are thrown in such as references to the funny papers, a composite of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, men is gas masks, workers with green skin, and a worker with a big red star on his work glove. We were fortunate to talk to a docent who explained a lot of what we were viewing, but we had to leave eventually.
I bought this book for my husband for Christmas, but it was really as much for myself as for him. This is a beautifully laid out book that goes into great detail about the history of the Rivera murals. It covers the time period that Rivera and Frieda Kahlo lived in Detroit and gave an account of their activities while there. It also provided a lot of information about Rivera's attitudes; Rivera was a Mexican Communist. There are details about the murals themselves as well as the political commentaries Rivera, not so transparently, snuck in. Anecdotes abound from the sentiments against the mural during the Cold War period and the discovery of sketches for the mural. Collectively, this book answers a lot of the questions we left wanting to ask and will take us back for another visit to look further.
Decidedly a great art book with a lot of detailed pictures, a thought provoking and informative text, and a book that really echoes the projects that came from the WPA.
5.0 out of 5 stars Why He is the Master 7 Jan 2014
By Bad Brad - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have had the pleasure of seeing many of Riveras works in person. His works in the USA, I have not seen. From the reviews, I figured THIS would be the best choice to learn about the Detroit murals. It is. The photos are well executed, sharp, and the colours appear to be well managed. I recommend this volume to all who are interested in Diego Rivera and his contribution to art.
5.0 out of 5 stars Diego Rivera: Beautiful book 14 Oct 2013
By Laura Malee - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Haven't dived into the book completely yet, but a thoughtful perusal shows beautiful photographs of the amazing murals at Detroit's Institute of Art. My boyfriend and I visited the institute over the summer and thoroughly enjoyed a guided tour of the murals. I stumbled upon the book months later and bought if for his birthday. I envision the book living on the coffee table in our new home, waiting to be read once all the remodeling is finished!
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