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San Francisco – SoMa: SFMoMA – Diego Rivera’s The Flower Carrier

The Flower Carrier [formerly The Flower Vendor]
oil and tempera on Masonite, 48 in. x 47 3/4 in. (
Diego Rivera, Mexican (Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886 – 1957, Mexico City, Mexico)

Acquired 1935, 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

In 1935, Albert M. Bender asked Rivera to select a work of art for the new San Francisco Museum of Art. Rivera’s choice, The Flower Carrier, is a rhythmic, powerful image of peasants at work. As in many of Riera’s depictions of Mexican campesinos, or agricultural owrkers, the painting conveys underlying Marxist convictions and a sympathetic respect for manual labor. Though the workers are heavily burdened, they are painted with a sculptural solidity that lends them a monumental dignity. One may interpret them as idealized representatives of their class, in harmony with each other and the natural world.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) was opened in 1935 under director Grace L. McCann Morley as the San Francisco Museum of Art, the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art. For its first sixty years, the museum occupied upper floors of the War Memorial Veterans Building in the Civic Center. Under director Henry T. Hopkins, the museum added "Modern" to its title in 1975, and established an international reputation. In 1995 the museum moved to its current location, a large cubistic building designed by Mario Botta Architetto of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum at 151 Third Street.

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