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Diego Rivera, The Flower Carrier, 1935. Oil and tempera on Masonite. Collection SFMOMA

Art that changed my world

Art that changed my world

American-born artist Susan Hillier on Diego Rivera’s The Flower Carrier

I was stymied by this question because it seems to me my world changes every time I pay close attention to anything. My world is in flux and isn't static. But I can tell you about a work of art, or rather a reproduction that certainly shifted my views about art.

This was a large fine print reproduction of a painting by Diego Rivera, The Flower Carrier (Cargador de Flores, 1935) in a heavy mahogany frame hanging above the living room sofa when I was a child. My parents always put it in the same place when we moved house, even when we had a different sofa. So it was, really, as far as I was concerned, just part of the furniture. I passed it for years without thinking about it.

All the elements in the painting were simplified, repetitive shapes doing their job of telling the story
One day when I was about 11 and becoming very critical of my own drawings, for some reason I stopped in front of it and looked at it, really looked at it. I looked first at the hands in the foreground: fingers without much detail, simplified, splayed out, solid on the painted earth, weight-bearing, starting to push the man up onto his feet. Then I noticed how all the elements in the painting were simplified, repetitive shapes doing their job of telling the story without too much fuss but with great attention. Clarity, rhythm, repetition, simplicity, removal of all non-essential elements all came to me as new ideas, carrying new feelings, new possibilities for drawing and painting.

Seeing this reproduction, really seeing it, looking at it carefully instead of just glancing at it in passing was an important moment in several ways.

Diego Rivera, The Flower Carrier, 1935. Oil and tempera on Masonite. Collection SFMOMA, Albert M. Bender Collection, gift of Albert M. Bender in memory of Caroline Walter © Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Source:christies.com

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