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Cosmos and Disaster reflects Siqueiros’s technical experiments with paint thickened by grit and splinters. The pessimistic theme almost certainly echoes his response to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. While his earlier works were dominated by huge figures, and communicated strident political messages, the near-abstraction here seems to convey his despair. He soon volunteered for the International Brigade opposing Franco’s forces. Photographs of the obliterated landscapes of First World War trenches may have been a point of reference for the painting.

November 2015