New York

David Alfaro Siqueiros

Center For Inter-American Relations

What to say about Siqueiros? The work in this exhibition does not show him at his best, of course: these are easel pictures, and the fact that they were all borrowed from two private collections suggests other limitations of size and importance. Still, it is painting from another world altogether, and with the change of time it is seen not to have enough merit to stand on its own. The shapes are almost nostalgic—curving, baroque forms that were actual in the twenties because of the biomorphic shapes of Tanguy, Dali and Miró. This is in a way similar to what one finds in Benton, and I would like to think that this work has as much significance as Benton’s to someone who is more sensitive than I to the problems with which Siqueiros is preoccupied. I myself feel that the deficiencies of these paintings would have been minimized if the artist had been more interested in formalistic styles, as Orozco was—the abstractions in the show are relatively coherent—but perhaps not: even when, in this work, the shapes do coalesce, it is in a rudimentary scheme, and formalistic models would certainly not have changed this. At least it is nice to find an artist with so much conviction! I wonder if Siqueiros did not persuade himself that sincerity was enough—although a great deal of his content is of a remarkably literary, adventitious sort. In the end one has to come up against the fact that he does not have much in the way of imagination—in fact, perhaps not much sensitivity generally, since his touch is also gross.

Jerrold Lanes