Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis explores ways in which the mural The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City at the San Francisco Art Institute by Diego Rivera (Mexico, 1886 \u2013 1957) in 1931 potentially affects the viewer. The main question I am addressing is why did Riveras visual language not communicate clearly to his United States audience? Was it a misuse of icons, a misreading, or an intentional dismissal on the audiences' part that caused the mural that is based on a Marxist philosophy of art and labor to go completely undetected in the United States press? I conclude it was the latter, that critics and journalists did not want to reveal the progressive message of the mural and instead focused on its formal aspects. The evidence provided is original research of the newspaper coverage at the time of the unveiling of the mural as well as the scholarship done on the mural since. In addition to an examination into the formal qualities of the fresco, I also look into the history of the mural and discuss the way the San Francisco Art Institute has alternately hidden and promoted it over the eight decades of its existence.'



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Szabo, Joyce

Second Committee Member

Johnston, Adrian


Mural, Marx, Mexico, San Francisco, Public Art, Diego Rivera