El amigo de Frida signed and dated 'Diego Rivera 1931' (lower left) 36 x 21 3/4in. (91.3 x 55.1cm) Painted in 1931
PROVENANCE Diego Rivera, Veracruz, Mexico, 11 June 1931. Mrs. Lillian Henkel Haass, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, acquired from the artist circa 1932-33. Virgil Phillips, Michigan, acquired from the above. Acquired from the above in May 1971, and by descent to Anne Hopkins Swantek.
EXHIBITED Mexico City, Mexico, Museo Nacional de Artes Plasticas, Exposicion Nacional, Diego Rivera 50 años de su labor artistica, August - December 1949, p. 451, no. 762 (incorrectly dated 1932).
LITERATURE L. Cortés Gutiérrez (ed.), Diego Rivera: catálogo general de obra de caballete, Mexico City, 1989, no. 986, illustrated p. 131.
"For the first time in the history of art, the humble masses, the crowd, the workers and peasants, the man in the street, in the factory, in the furrow: the mass....appears as the main hero in art. That is what we did [and] what no one had done before us; this is our glory."
The years 1930-32 were a time of great recognition for Diego Rivera in America. He received wide attention in the media for his murals at the San Francisco Stock Exchange and the Detroit Institute of Arts. In the late 1920s he began work on his most ambitious mural to date at the Palacio Nacionale in Mexico City. The tightly compressed composition, filled with countless figures, and presents the history of Mexico City from the fall of Teotihuacán to the rise of Karl Marx, and then looking ahead to the next chapter of history. This great scale proved overambitious, and it was left uncompleted. The scale of this project was however replicated in the great American commissions of the following decade. These not only enhanced his fame but introduced him to an eager new coterie of collectors.
El Amigo de Frida was painted in 1931 at the beginning of this prolific period. It was almost certainly acquired by Lilian Henckel Haass during one of the artist's visits to Detroit in 1932 to discuss the Detroit Industry mural cycle with Edsel Ford and William Valentiner, the head of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Haass was a board member of the DIA as well as a member of the Detroit Society of the Arts. She and her husband, the financier Julius Haass, were noted collectors of Egyptian, African and Iranian art as well as European and American paintings.
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