Collection 1880s–1940s

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José Clemente Orozco. Dive Bomber and Tank. 1940 5420

Fresco, six panels, Each 9' x 36" (275 x 91.4 cm), overall 9 x 18' (275 x 550 cm). Commissioned through the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund. © 2024 José Clemente Orozco / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico

Curator, Luis Perez-Oramas: We are looking at a mural painted by the Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco in 1940 entitled Dive Bomber and Tank. It was made during the second World War, and it refers to what was at the time happening in the world.

Here he builds this universal statement against violence. It is the ultimate monstrosity of modernity that is being represented here in the scene of smashing bodies and destruction. We see a central element that looks like a dive bomber plane that has actually crashed. We also see, at the bottom of the mural some faces, attached with chains. And on the right side of the mural, a pair of legs of someone who is obviously a victim of this crash. There is an organic element that resembles a snake. It's an apocalyptic view painted by Orozco at an apocalyptic time.

The Museum organized in 1940 a very big exhibition entitled Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art. And, Orozco was commissioned by the Museum to come to New York and to paint this mural for that exhibition. Orozco painted the mural in the hall of the museum. During ten days of frenzied labor, and helped by assistants, he painted the mural in front of the audience. It was a little bit like what we call today a performance.