VIP Diego Rivera

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Diego Rivera (December 8, 1886 - November 24, 1957)

Considered the greatest Mexican painter of the twentieth century, Diego Rivera is credited with the reintroduction of fresco painting into modern art and architecture. He painted major murals in at the San Francisco Stock Exchange, California School of Fine Arts, Detroit Institute of Art, providing the first inspiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's WPA program.

Errol Flynn's autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways, describes a visit the actor paid Rivera in Mexico in 1935:

He asked, "Have you ever heard a painting?"

"Heard what?"

"I said, suppose you looked at a painting and heard it play a symphony, would you be surprised?"

I didn't follow.

"Suppose you returned to my studio and you stood in front of one of my paintings and you heard it, you heard music coming from the canvas...."

As we talked he moved from one potted plant to the other, fingering them, pressing them fondly, almost caressing them.

He took from a pocket a few sheets of zigzag French paper, the kind of little tissues you use in rolling cigarettes.

"This plant,' he explained, "will allow you to do both. After smoking this you will see a painting and hear it as well."

It dawned on me that he was rolling in that zigzag paper the "loco weed" referred to in The Conquest of Mexico, ganja in Jamaica, anis abiba in other parts of the world, hashish in the Far East.

Actually, Mexican locoweed isn't Cannabis; the term usually refers to Oxytropis and Astragalus, or Datura stramonium.

After smoking marijuana with Rivera, Flynn writes:

Over me came the sensation of being suspended in time. All sense of its passage was gone. Everything about me seemed frozen, taut, permanent.

I wasn't certain where we were going, whether among his paintings, or in his garden. Yet we were moving slowly, timelessly. His voice came to me hypnotically...."Listen to Mexico. Look at my pictures and listen to Mexico..."

Whether it was autosuggestion or not, whether it was the suggestive power of a tremendous personality profoundly affecting a young man given so much of his time, or whether it was the marijuana—as some will say it was—I heard these pictures singing: the simple Mexican themes, a woman on a mule moving through a field of cacti, the peasants at their labor, in rhythm: illimination and color and sound in a symphony I could see, feel and hear—but can never translate in words.

Also see: How Paulette Goddard Turned on Fred Astaire?

 

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