Blue Boy with the Banana

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957)
Oil on canvas 
36 x 21-5/8 in. (91.4 x 54.9 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection 
Accession Number:
© 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 
Not on View

Diego Rivera was one of the most prolific and renowned Mexican artists of the twentieth century. Along with José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, he produced murals that helped redefine Mexican national identity. Upon returning to Mexico in 1921 after a decade in Europe, he fused Italian Renaissance fresco techniques and cubist spatial innovations to create a distinctive modernist style. In Blue Boy with the Banana, as in his other portraits of children, Rivera portrays a singular figure in front of a flat wall. The uneven eyes, angular face and voluminous folds of fabric that distort the boy’s small frame push him forward into the viewer’s space. It has been suggested that the “Blue Boy” is not an individual, but rather, a type, a figure that alludes to the work of the four European painters who were known as the “Blue Four” and who were represented by European dealer Galka Scheyer, for whom this piece was created. Scheyer stated that the subdued hues of blue made “the picture more abstract and far away.” As with Rivera’s The Flower Vendor, the humble scene suggests that the roots of Mexican identity may lie in the nation’s indigenous cultures.


The artist, sold 7 November 1931 to;
Galka Scheyer;
Pasadena Art Institute, Pasadena, 1953-1954;
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena,1954-1975;
Norton Simon Museum, 1975.

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