David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) was born José David de Jesús Alfaro Siqueiros in Mexico City, although he'd long claimed to have been born in Chihuahua in the north of Mexico. Along with José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera, he's often cited as among the greatest proponents of Mexican muralism in the 20th century.
As a young teenager, he attended the Academy of San Carlos. At 18, he joined the Constitutionalist Army to fight the government of Victoriano Huerta. After the fall of Huerta, he traveled widely as a soldier until the end of the Revolution. He departed for Europe in 1919 and there met Diego Rivera. The two traveled together through Italy studying the great fresco painters of the Italian Renaissance.
Siqueiros hoped to create a style to link national and universal art, seeking a social realism that would acclaim the proletarian peoples of Mexico and the world. These and other insights are gained through a number of important writings he published during these years.
He returned to Mexico City in 1922 to work as a muralist under the Secretary of Public Education, José Vasconcelos. Commissioning major works for prominent Mexico City buildings, many of these remain the most important works of the 20th century. In 1923 he painted Burial of the Sacrificial Worker in the stairwell of the Colegio Chico de San Ildefonso.
He went into exile after being imprisoned in the Lecumberri Palace in the 1930s. He returned in 1946 and went on to paint many of the most important works of the mid-20th century.
25 days before his death in 1974, he donated the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros to the people of Mexico. It's currently administered by the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL).