Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Paper
Detroit Industry, North WallDiego M. RiveraImage Size Lower Panel: 17 feet 8-½ inches x 45 feet1932-1933Detroit Institute of Arts[pic 1]I have been to the DIA numerous times and was excited to go back and see Diego Rivera’s tribute to the industry and workers in Detroit. I have always been fond of the Rivera Court and the representation this portrays of our great City of Detroit and its industry. Perhaps because my grandfather and great uncles worked for the auto industry, it is very near and dear to my heart. The giant mural contains 27 panels, and I have chosen the lower panel of the north wall to write about. Based on his own observations at the Ford River Rouge factory, Rivera captures the major processes related to the manufacturing of the 1932 Ford V8 engine from the furnace used to make molds from melted steel to the final assembly of the engine on the production line in this detailed fresco painting. The types of lines Diego Rivera used in the North Wall painting are horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and curvy. There are several horizontal and vertical lines used throughout the painting with different widths and lengths. Some of them are thick and some are thin. The two thickest vertical lines that sit in the center of the panel are giant spindle drills. At the lower portion of the painting there are several horizontal and vertical lines that are near the assembly workers. Diagonal lines appear at the top of the panel on either side of the furnace. They also appear in the lower center with a few assembly workers in a diagonal position giving a sense of movement. Rivera used several curvy lines throughout the painting that look like a conveyor belts creating a feeling of connectivity. The assembly line runs all the way from lower left to lower right and the bodies of the humans also have curvy lines that were drawn out for each person giving the sense of energy and harmony. They are all working together to get the job done. Lines help to create the overall content of the painting by giving the painting a starting point. In order to create something pure, lines bring the artwork together and lead us through the composition by communicating information.
Diego Rivera used a combination of both geometric and organic shapes in his painting. The geometric shapes used in this composition are rectangles and squares. There are rectangle shapes used towards the top left of the painting and towards the bottom of the panel. The squares also appear at the bottom of the painting in the monochrome panels. Organic shapes were also used in the painting and are represented by the humans on the assembly line along with the conveyor belt. Rivera used the primary color blue along with the secondary color scheme of orange, green and violet as well as various intermediate colors to create this composition. In most of the painting he uses green, blue, and violet. An analogous color harmony consisting of green, blue-green, blue, and violet are used throughout the painting. He used predominantly cool colors although there are some warm colors used for the fire at the top of the panel. When you look at the Detroit Industry North Wall, you focus on the blue and violet that is used in the art. His painting is not based on just dark color combinations, but he adds in some lighter colors to break up the whole composition such as the two white drills in the middle of the painting and some hints of yellow. White is considered neutral because it has no color. This would be considered a subjective painting, because Diego chose the colors he wanted to use in his painting rather than painting from realistic views. At the very bottom of the lower panel are six individual panels depicting the day in the life of the worker painted in a monochromatic color harmony. Rhythm and movement are evident in this painting. The assembly line workers at the bottom of the panel give you a feeling of rhythmic movement back and forth as you move along the production line. You get the sense of a fast-paced environment with man working with machine to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Viewing the painting from left to right, you feel as though you are moving along on the conveyor belt from one process to the next in the daily production of the engine. Rivera has chosen the asymmetrical balance for this composition. There is a sense of visual equilibrium between both sides. The two sides look different, but they visually balance each other. If you divide the painting in half, you have a white drill on the left that is farther from the center than the drill on the right side of the painting which is closer to the center. There is also a balance between the production line workers on the left and right side of the lower portion of the painting. The workers span across the entire bottom of the painting from the center to the left and from the center to the right of the painting counterbalancing each side.