Industry and technology as the indigenous culture of Detroit

The Detroit Industry fresco cycle was conceived by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957) as a tribute to the city's manufacturing base and labor force of the 1930s. Rivera completed the twenty-seven panel work in eleven months, from April 1932 to March 1933. It is considered the finest example of Mexican mural art in the United States, and the artist thought it the best work of his career.

Rivera was a Marxist who believed that art belonged on public walls rather than in private galleries. He found his medium in the fresco, where paint is applied to wet plaster. Its vast size allowed him to explore grand and complex themes, which would be accessible to a large audience. In Mexico, Rivera's murals tied modern Mexican culture to its indigenous roots, revealing the ancient Indian cultures as Mexico's true heritage. Similarly, Rivera's Detroit Industry murals depict industry and technology as the indigenous culture of Detroit.

Want to learn more about the murals?

Want to see Rivera working on this masterpiece?

The DIA offers a multimedia tour of Detroit Industry, available on hand held devices at the museum's Rivera Court Information desk or click on one of the links below.