The Threshing Floor Diego Rivera Buy Art Prints Now
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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 Threshing Floor is a 1904 painting by Diego Rivera which fits into the Social Realism art movement. We see an agricultural worker ploughing with the help of two horses on a bright, hot day. In the far distance the artist reminds us of the beauty of his native Mexico with a mountain scene.

A wall strikes across the horizontal of this painting, marking out a private residence. Beyond that we see carefully crafted rows of crops disappearing into the distance. Beyond that, and before the mountains, is a desert like area which looks relatively wild and untouched. We get an exciting cross section of the Mexican environment within just a single painting, with Rivera providing several different layers within the same composition. There is also some architecture to the right hand side perhaps representing some sort of ranch in which the landowners reside. Rivera's focus is one the ordinary, just as it normally was, and so he chooses to feature and individal going about their tiring work in the hot sun. Notice the clothing, with thick material and a strong hat to try to cope with being out in these conditions for hours on end.

Rivera creates long shadows which angle towards the bottom right of the painting in order to continue the idea of this hot sun, but without actually including it specifically within the painting. The colour tones of orange, yellow and green were always popular within Mexican art and were inspired by the environment of this stunning country. The artist then softens the very distant content, blurring the mountain to give a blue glow around the very top of the painting, underlining the distance which exists between it and us in the foreground. One can look at The Threshing Floor and really get a sense of the nature of this country, as well as a strong feel for the lives of ordinary local people, of which Rivera was always so fond. Most well known artists over the centuries have covered the rich and famous within their work but there is always something more impressive and wholesome about those whose instincts are instead to focus on the opposite end of society.

The artist would travel to many countries across his lifetime, particularly in the early days when he was most intererested in discovering new cultures. Despite that, though, he would never lose interest or his love for local Mexican people and that explains why he remains such as iconic figure within that country. Elsewhere he is loved for his art, but in Mexico his reputation goes far beyond just that of an artist, and he also has several galleries set up in his honour which carry parts of his career and also try to encourage the next generations of Mexican artists to follow in his highly successful footsteps.