SPACE AND TIME IN THE MURALS OF THOMAS HART BENTON AND DIEGO RIVERA: REPRESENTATION AND MEMORIALIZATION OF NATIONAL IDENTITIES
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In this study, I will show how the categories of linear time and horizontal space in the United States and cyclical time and vertical space in Mexico persist into the 20th century and are revealed in the public mural art of Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. Incorporating the thinking of Mikhail Bakhtin, Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Arnheim, I will demonstrate that the murals articulate the origin stories of each nation by drawing on the chronotopes (time-space) utilized by each artist to serve as the formal structures of national memorials.
I will argue that in the United States a national identity and collective memory are associated with a linear sense of time in which the past is insignificant and the present is simply a necessary step towards the future while a horizontal concept of space prevails in which the axis mundi expands and tilts outward and is best associated with the ideas of manifest destiny, constant change, progress, freedom and open space.
In contrast, we find in Mexico a national identity where collective story and memory are associated instead with a cyclical sense of time in which the past, present and future are constantly linked and concurrent, and a vertical concept of space around which one centers identity that lessens the distance between diverse peoples physically as well as culturally.
Building on the work of Paul Ricoeur, Raymond Williams, Erika Doss, Yi Fu Tuan and Hannah Arendt, I will further show that the representations in the chronotopes of Benton and Rivera are incomplete and need to be expanded upon to shape a more inclusive national understanding of “we” in both countries that reflects the diversity of its citizens.
Aesthetics | American Art and Architecture | Arts and Humanities | Theory and Criticism
Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts
Parks, Tammy McMillan, "SPACE AND TIME IN THE MURALS OF THOMAS HART BENTON AND DIEGO RIVERA: REPRESENTATION AND MEMORIALIZATION OF NATIONAL IDENTITIES" (2022). Academic Research and Dissertations. 41.
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