Murals by Diego Rivera seen at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco - The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City
Murals by Diego Rivera seen at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco - The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City
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The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City

"The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City" by Diego Rivera has become a mainstay of student life at the San Francisco Art Institute. Created in sections in 1931, with fresh plaster spread over the wall in a given area, a drawing transferred to the wet plaster, and then pigments applied in quick brushstrokes before the plaster dries. Obviously, there is little room for mistakes with such a method, and Rivera meticulously worked out his drawings and compositions in exacting detail before beginning such a monumental work.

Looking at some of the mural's details, Rivera painted a worker operating a forge bellows (left), a sculptor hammering a massive block of stone with a chisel (middle), and a belt-machine operator. For Rivera, the depiction of workers in his mural was of paramount importance since from his Marxist perspective the workers produced all wealth and so should be the masters of society.

Another detail taken from the lower center portion of the mural, Rivera portrayed Timothy Pfleuger (left), who was responsible for designing the San Francisco Stock Exchange; William Gerstle (center), a banker, philanthropist, and president of the San Francisco Art Association, and Arthur Brown, the architect who designed Coit Tower, The San Francisco Opera House, and San Francisco City Hall. Again, it must be noted that looming over these three very powerful individuals is the colossal proletarian, Rivera’s not so subtle message that the working class will one day prevail over capitalist elites.