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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Frozen Assets painting by Diego Rivera is one of a kind. In order to draw it, he painted with unadulterated dull colourants on a damp lime surface.

As the surface dries, visible deposits of crystals form on the surface making the finishing very attractive and eye-catching. To paint this he used the tools he used during his artwork which include paint brushes, a rag for making a correction and wore his apron. He also had water to wet the surface.

In Frozen Assets, Rivera brings out the economic inequalities he had witnessed in the city of New York despite the many buildings in the city. The painting is in three distinctive sections. The upper section shows some of the many tall buildings in New York most of which one can relate with. The section at the centre shows a shed made of steel and glass with rows of men either sleeping or lying dead with someone watching over them.

These people could be sleeping because they are jobless or because they died as a result of hunger. In the bottom section, there is a waiting room of a bank with the security guard in his place as well as the clerks inside. There are people outside probably waiting to be served. He used dull colours to make this painting to demonstrate sadness as a result of the hard economic time the city was going through during the Great Depression.

This painting shows plainly the reality in New York City, despite the developed status as evident by the many skyscrapers, there are still many people jobless and living in harsh conditions. Here Rivera, just as several other painting, he criticizes the unfairness in the city which he strongly attributes to politics and politicians. The dullness of the painting expresses there is little to enjoy living in the city.

Diego Rivera created the artwork of Frozen Assets between the years 1931 to 1932. Until today, the painting is preserved at, The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, MOMA, in the United States of America.