Diego Rivera

El puente de San Martín, 1913

Oleo / tela
91 x 111 cm

The motif that gives this work its title and theme is the “imposing structure” of the San Martín Bridge which connected the city of Toledo, Spain with its outlying recreational villas or cigarrales, and which is viewed from one of the raised outcroppings or miraderos to the west of the ancient royal villa. The bridge’s access towers, as well as its arches and ramps, are not shown in a continuous line but are dismembered and juxtaposed, rising up in a multiple perspective of roof-coverings and façades, with a great diversity of angles and breaks, mixed together with those of the canyons that serve to channel the turbid and tumultuous currents of the Tagus.

The structural complexity of the composition owes something not only to the pictorial interests of its author-and his vehement (and at that time incipient) adherence to the principles of cubism-but also to the inextricable topography of the Castilian city itself, with its labyrinth of steep and crooked streets. There is even a section of ladder, as if evoking the ones that really are there to rectify irregularities and unevenness in the terrain, even in the interiors of the houses.

There is a notable absence of any references to churches, which provide the architectonic pectin for this deeply Catholic city. Instead, there is an interest in an exclusively vernacular architecture, amalgamated with references to the many centuries that have attached themselves to the urban memory. Here we find co-mingled rounded arches and others that are pointed, as well as a trio of arches that evoke the Arabic presence; and all of these architectural styles from bygone eras appear together with a clearly more recent, peak-roofed structure that appears in the lower-left corner-a kind of slave barracks, associated with the post and wiring of electrified modernity. Space and time unite in this fragmented vision, harmonized by the color, the brushstrokes, and the rigorous geometry of the lines.

Vid. Ramírez, Fausto. Mexican modern painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection, Mexico, RM Verlag Barcelona, 2011, page 38.

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