Collective Suicide is an apocalyptic vision of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Siqueiros shows armored Spanish troops advancing on horseback, a bowed captive staggering before them in chains. The broken statue of a god demonstrates the ruin of the indigenous culture. Chichimec Indians, separated from their tormentors by a churning pit, slaughter their own children, hang themselves, stab themselves with spears, or hurl themselves from cliffs rather than submit to slavery.
Siqueiros, one of the Mexican mural painters of the 1920s and 1930s, advocated what he called “a monumental, heroic, and public art.” An activist and propagandist for social reform, he was politically minded even in his choices of materials and formats: rejecting what he called “bourgeois easel art,” he used commercial and industrial paints and methods. Collective Suicide is both a memorial to the doomed pre-Hispanic cultures of the Americas and a rallying cry against contemporary totalitarian regimes.
Gallery label from 2013