Siqueiros opened his Experimental Workshop in New York in 1936. It was a meeting-place for young artists (including Jackson Pollock), where new techniques were developed. Many of the techniques were related to Surrealist automatism, though Siqueiros was never involved with the movement. In Cosmos and Disaster these experiments are evident in the new paints, thickened by grit and splinters. The apocalyptic vision reflects Siqueiros’s despair at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and he soon volunteered for the International Brigade opposing Franco’s forces.