Obscura Day 2017! Join our global celebration of exploration and discovery.
May 6

Mexico City, Mexico

Fuente de Tláloc

Diego Rivera's massive tiled fountain and failed infrastructure project. 

Just five years before his death, Diego Rivera finished one of his most intriguing works, la Fuente de Tláloc. Although strikingly different in medium from most of his work, the massive tiled fountain beautifully captures the essence of Native Mexican spirit and art that is so often depicted in his paintings.

Known best for his murals, which he painted in Mexico, Europe and the United States, Rivera began a project in 1952 to improve the infrastructure of Mexico City, beginning with the municipal water system. Created at the head of the Lerma River leading out to the city’s reservoirs, Rivera created a massive tiled sculpture of the god of Rain, Tláloc that spanned a pool 100 feet across.

Constructed lying on his back, water used to rush over the god Tláloc, until a pipe diverted the flow of water away from the fountain. Rivera’s work of art then slowly decayed until it was eventually closed off for over a decade at the turn of the century. Finally in 2010, the fountain, murals and tile work of the Mexican master were restored, and visitors began to visit the unique Fuente de Tláloc.

Along with the fountain, Rivera also built and decorated the Carcamo, a massive tank that diverted water through the fountain, and was used to control water levels. When the fountain was refinished, the Carcamo and its elegantly painted floors were touched up, letting Rivera’s work for Mexico City shine as a free gallery and piece of artful infrastructure.

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