Daily Art Moment: Diego Rivera

Image description: Diego Rivera, La Escuela de Aire Libre (Open Air School), 12 1/2 x 16 5/16 inches; sheet: 15 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches, lithograph on cream wove paper. A landscape print rendered in shades of gray depicts a group of students, both young and old, gathered around a teacher who holds a book open on her lap. The teacher sits at left, slightly elevated above her students who gather in a circle around her. She had dark center parted hair that lays flat to her head, large eyes with a broad straight nose and full lips. She wears a simple high-necked, long-sleeved garment and holds up her right hand, palm out. Two younger students huddle near her to the left and have short, cropped hair and dark skin. Three more students are positioned at left. One is shown in profile wearing a long full sleeved shirt, cropped dark hair and has a garment or wrap gathered around him as he sits on the ground. Next to him to the right are two students, one in long braids and one in the act of writing in a book. The figures’ facial features all resemble those of their instructor. In the foreground, three students sit with their backs to the viewer. At center is a white-haired man sits hunched next to a small student and another in overalls. In the background there are two teams of horses and their drivers working the fields. At far left a guard on horseback with a rifle stands watch. At center, crops are gathered by two figures at a large rectangular container. At far right is another horse team with driver working the land. The print as a hand drawn quality, with the look of a detailed pencil sketch.
Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957), La Escuela de Aire Libre (Open Air School), 1932, lithograph on cream wove paper, image: 12 1/2 in x 16 5/16 in; sheet: 15 3/4 in x 22 3/4 in, Gift of Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Dimitroff. Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, 84.31.5

It’s back-to-school time! In this lithograph of 1932, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera celebrates the importance of “education for all” as one of the guiding tenets of the Mexican Revolution. Here, an Indigenous woman instructs a range of students from young children to elders in an open field. Behind her, laborers prepare the soil for planting, echoing the teacher’s cultivation of her students’ minds. An armed guard on horseback scans the horizon for trouble; in the 1920s and 1930s, conservative forces murdered rural school teachers to protest the secularization of education. In this quiet scene, Rivera voices his support for the rural education movement and the Indigenous Mexican population.

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886–1957), La Escuela de Aire Libre (Open Air School), 1932. Lithograph on cream wove paper. Gift of Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Dimitroff, 84.31.5

Related Content