David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) was a Mexican social realist painter, better known for his large murals in public places. Along with Diego Rivera and JosÃ© Clemente Orozco, he was one of the main promoters of Mexican Muralism. His surname would normally be Alfaro by Spanish naming customs, but like many others in the 20th century, he adopted an originally more noble surname and used his mother’s maiden name of Siqueiros.
Alfaro was born in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, the son of a well-to-do family. His father had been born in Spain but settled in Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence. Alfaro began studying art at an early age, even though his father discouraged him from doing so.
Alfaro was already a successful painter by the time he enrolled in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1916. He enrolled in the university on a government scholarship and was quickly recognized as one of the school’s most talented students. He studied art and political science at the university, and his radical political beliefs quickly brought him into conflict with the school’s authorities.
In 1918, Alfaro was arrested for participating in a student protest against administrative corruption at the university. He was expelled from the university and spent several months in prison. When he was released from prison, he decided to join the Mexican Revolution.
Alfaro fought in the revolution for several years, and his experience as a soldier had a profound effect on his art. He painted a number of murals during this period, including one at the National Palace in Mexico City which commemorated the Mexican Revolution.
After the revolution, Alfaro returned to painting. He became one of the main proponents of Mexican Muralism, a movement which sought to use art to promote social and political change. Alfaro’s most famous mural is probably the one he painted at the National Polytechnic Institute in 1934, which depicts workers rising up against their oppressors.
Alfaro was also a prolific writer, and his writings on art and politics were widely read in Mexico. He was an outspoken critic of the Mexican government, and his views often put him at odds with the authorities. In 1940, he was arrested and imprisoned for his political activities.
Alfaro was released from prison in 1946, and he immediately resumed his political and artistic activities. He continued to paint murals and also wrote a number of books, including an autobiography. In the 1960s, he became increasingly involved in the Mexican student movement, and he was once again arrested and imprisoned for his political views.