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Gleaming the Cubism

Most people know Diego Rivera for his calming depictions of earthy, wide-bodied women selling bundles of lilies, or possibly for his intricate, Hieronymus Bosch-like murals of Mexican history. (You most certainly do not know him by his full name, which is astounding: Diego Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodriguez--nothing like carrying around family baggage.) But from 1913 until 1917, Rivera traipsed around Paris, hobnobbing with the art world's literati and producing a coalescence of art vogue and social glam in a series of his paintings. Rivera's Cubist portraits--now the subject of a special exhibition at the Meadows Museum--are characterized mostly by blocky, geometric figures (named for luminaries of the time) reclining and lunching on blocky, geometric fish and wine. It was one of the Museum's permanent collection pieces--in which Russian journalist Ilya Ehrenburg (gray rectangles for shoulders, brown square for a body) smokes pensively (if shapes can be pensive)--that inspired the exhibition, which culls from several disparate private collections to showcase Rivera's exploration of Cubism through his friends, like Ehrenburg and sculptor Jacques Lipschitz (a mass of flesh-colored polygons with some brief interludes of Mexican blanket-print). The exhibit runs through September. For more information, visit
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: June 21. Continues through Sept. 20, 2009


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