The Intersection Of Art And Travel

The Intersection Of Art And Travel

Diego Rivera’S Mexico City, Augusta Savage’S Harlem, Camille Pissarro’S Paris

Countless art lovers are captivated by the visionary artists Diego Rivera, Augusta Savage, and Camille Pissarro. To cut through the mystery and gain an appreciation and understanding of these masters, one must visit the cities that facilitated their talents. Each is a joy to visit in its own right; add in these stops and you’ll come away with a newfound artistic education covering some of the art world’s biggest names.

Diego Rivera’s Mexico City

Art lovers who visit Mexico’s capital revel in the chance to see sites where the larger-than-life Diego Rivera (1886-1957) lived and worked, some of which overlapped with his wife, Frida Kahlo.

Begin in the leafy, enchanting neighborhood of Coyoacán, home to the Museo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli and Museo Frida Kahlo. The latter, popularly known as La Casa Azul, is a striking blue house where Rivera and Kahlo lived together. The rooms were left untouched, so be sure to visit Rivera’s bedroom, where his hat, jacket, and work clothes still hang from a wall rack.

The artist built the Museo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli both as his studio and a museum to hold his collection of pre-Columbian art. The imposing neo-Aztec building sits in a parklike environment that doubles as one of the few wildlife refuges in Mexico City. Take a guided tour, or check out the small gallery which hosts art, music, dance lessons, lectures, and concerts.

In the artsy, upscale neighborhood of San Ángel, the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo is housed in Kahlo and Rivera’s first marital home. The museum lets visitors explore key sites such as Rivera’s studio, where he made many of his most famous paintings surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and huge papier-mâché Judas sculptures.

Rivera is best known for his large frescoes and murals. A communist, he frequently inserted contentious political themes such as workers’ rights into his works.

Rivera’s most ardent fans make a scavenger hunt out of a visit to Mexico City’s Centro Historico, or historic center, where four locations, all within a healthy stroll of one another, hold some of the artist’s most famous works.

Check out the Secretaria de Educacion Publica building to see a famous Rivera mural in which Kahlo is depicted handing out rifles to revolutionaries,or scan the exterior of the imposing Palacio Nacional—on the eastern edge of the Zócalo, the city’s vast main square—to marvel at awe-inspiring Rivera murals. The Museo Mural Diego Rivera is a small museum built primarily to house one of the artist’s most renowned murals, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park (1947). And the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a world-famous performance venue best known for ballet folklorico dance performances, houses a museum that displays Rivera murals.

Finish with a stop at the Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL), which contains a large collection of the artist’s paintings, including pieces he painted in Paris while on a scholarship to Europe.

The Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, a world-renowned performance venue, features murals by Diego Rivera. The artist is best known for large works of art depicting everyday life, often filled with political messages
The Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, a world-renowned performance venue, features murals by Diego Rivera. The artist is best known for large works of art depicting everyday life, often filled with political messages.

Augusta Savage’s Harlem—and Upstate New York

Pioneering artist Augusta Savage (1892-1962) overcame poverty, racism, and sexual discrimination to become a key artist, educator, and community organizer during the Harlem Renaissance. Her studio, which she established to offer free classes to children and adults, served as a formative backdrop for a generation of African-American artists. She also created the free Harlem Community Art Center.

Savage was one of 12 women artists commissioned for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. As the only African-American woman, she created Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Harp), a 16-foot-tall sculpture of Black youth in the form of a harp, inspired by the hymn “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Sadly, the artist lacked the funds to cast the work in bronze and space to store it, so it was destroyed after the event. Today, the touchstone work exists only in the form of souvenir replicas, including a version on display at the New-York Historical Society.

About 100 miles north of Harlem in Saugerties, N.Y., stands the Augusta Savage House and Studio. She owned the modest property from 1945-62, and set her sculpture studio in a small shed.

A replica of a sculpture created by Augusta Savage lives at the New-York Historical Society.
A replica of a sculpture created by Augusta Savage lives at the New-York Historical Society

Camille Pissarro’s Paris

Though iconic painter Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) was actually born on the island of St. Thomas, the impressionist and neo-impressionist master is most associated with Paris. There, in 1873, he helped establish a collective society of aspiring artists and was viewed as the unofficial leader of the impressionist painters. He became the only artist to have shown his work at all eight of the city’s legendary impressionist exhibitions, which took place between 1874 and 1886. (This was something peers such as Monet, Manet, and Renoir could not claim.) Pissarro influenced not only those masters, but major post-impressionists as well, namely Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin, and van Gogh.

Art lovers visiting the City of Light can spend time with some of Pissarro’s most famous works. The Musée d’Orsay possesses more than 50 works by Pissarro as well as the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world. It is home to Pissarro’s famous White Frost, which he painted near the Parisian suburb of Pontoise, where he lived from 1873-82.

Two of his works—The Watering Place, Éragny and Landscape at Pontoise—can be admired at the Louvre, the world’s biggest and most visited art museum.

One can also stroll the grand boulevards he depicted later in his career, namely the Boulevard des Italiens and Boulevard Montmartre. In his final period, Pissarro featured Parisian landmarks such as the Gare Saint-Lazare and Tuileries Garden. From his house on Place Dauphine, he produced 30 paintings over his final three years, including La Seine et le Louvre—now at the Musée d’Orsay. Finally, Pissarro’s grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery is not far from those of post-impressionist icons such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.

The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning by Camille Pissarro
The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning by Camille Pissarro.

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