Art: Rivera Washout

The mural that Mexico's Diego Rivera painted down the sides and across the bottom of the distribution chamber of Mexico City's Lerma River water system (TIME, June 4, 1951) was a wonder to behold the day it was dedicated almost five years ago. Painted around the water's edge were giant-sized symbols of Mexico's people, their past oppressors and future hopes; beneath the water was an intricate pattern of teeming protoplasmic life. Rivera confidently predicted that his water-washed mural, Water, Origin of Life, painted with a mixture of plastic polystyrene in the fresco pigment, then varnished with transparent rubber, was good for...