Today marks the 70th birthday of the National Health Service. It’s a birthday worth celebrating, and it conveniently falls on Throwback Thursday. The NHS isn’t perfect, but what is? It’s something one easily takes for granted. Up until the point when it is needed, when it suddenly becomes a life saver that it worth every penny. Where it is found to be lacking, one will normally find a Tory ‘reform’ or cut-back at play.
I’ve been to this museum many times before, and have existing posts about it. But I’ve never added it to my fancy pants Bing map, and it’s worth putting up there. So now it is – map no. 34. It’s a nice place to head on a Sunday. There’s a goodly collection of paintings by Rivera, Siqueiros and the gang.
San Angel, the town it’s in, has some nice quiet streets, parks, markets, convents and restaurants. The prices can be exhorbitant. Or worse – we went into a few little stores peddling traditional painted boxes and alebrijes that were marking up the retail price by as much as 1,000%. Some nice wooden boxes that can be had for a few hundred pesos elsewhere had tags on them demanding 8,000 pesos. Rip off? Virtually criminal….
My search for famous murals, or even less than famous murals so long as they have been painted by famous muralists, has taken me across the city, from north to south, east and west. And Tepito. Sort of. But today’s trek takes some beating. I visited the Monumento a la Raza yesterday, and went on to the nearby hospital as I’d heard there were murals there by Diego Rivera and Siqueiros.
I wandered around this massive hospital but could find nothing. So I asked a chap at the gate. He pointed inside. Oh dear. But I’d come so far, it seemed silly to give up now. So in I went, for a good wander until I found them. I have to confess, it feels a bit creepy to be a tourist wandering about an extremely busy hospital, stepping over the sick, pushing past the elderly and infirm, and hiding the sight of the dismembered with an outstretched palm!
But I have few morals when it comes to photographing murals. I ploughed on regardless, oblivious to the odd looks I got, and eventually found the right room. Now there are supposed to be murals by Rivera and Siqueiros, and I found only one. Did they work together, or was there another I missed? And if the latter, which of the two gents was responsible for this one?
If I were to use my artistically challenged eye to guess, I would lay responsibility firmly at the feet of Rivera. It looks so much like his style of bold yet sometimes simplistic painting. And yet there are touches, here and there, of the more sophisticated, futuristic and stylish artwork I’d associate with Siqueiros. Someone who knows will hopefully stumble along and tell me. The photos, and the short video which is embedded below, are all on Flickr – click here.
You can’t miss the Polyforum, a monument built by the famed Mexican muralist David Siqueiros to himself, if you wander or drive up Insurgentes. Located right next to the World Trade Center (map), it rather stands out as you can see from this photo of the exterior. It’s pretty spectacular. Although first impressions might lead you to think it’s a tacky nightclub. First impressions aren’t entirely wrong. You can see the full set of photos I took by clicking here.
Inside it is just as dramatic, with what is claimed to be the world’s largest mural. Elsewhere I’ve seen it deswcribed merely as ‘one of the biggest’. Either way, it’s impressively big. Siqueiros was indeed a visionary. He thought in 3D and 360 degrees long before Panasonic or Sony got around to it. On Saturdays and Sundays there is a Sound and Light show which costs just 30 pesos to go see. Or just 15 pesos if you have a student or teacher ID.
You’ll get a talk by a guide before the show begins, where he reads a script that is pretty much a carbon copy of the info you’re about to hear in the show. When the show itself starts, it feels like the very earth is moving. That’s largely because it is. Well the floor underneath you anyway. Virtually the entire interior floor is a huge circular platform which rotates full circle. Fast enough to be noticeable. But not so fast that you are instantly aware of it. Feels more like the opening tremors of a quake!