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Bicycle Race
Bicycle Race, 1938
Antonio Ruíz, Mexican
Oil on canvas
13 1/8 x 17 inches (33.3 x 43.2 cm) Framed: 21 1/4 x 25 1/8 x 4 1/8 inches (54 x 63.8 x 10.5 cm)
Purchased with the Nebinger Fund, 1949
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Bicycle Race

Four athletes speed toward the finish line in this colorful painting of a bicycle race. With determined looks on their faces, the two leaders hunch forward and tightly grasp the handlebars, pedaling as fast as they can. It is a bright, sunny day, and many spectators have come to watch the exciting event. On either side of the cyclists, children raise their arms and cheer. Other people sit and watch from atop a high wall on the right, their legs dangling off the edge. On the left, special guests and judges observe the race from a grandstand, decorated with colorful banners that blow in the breeze. Visible in the upper left, several people have even climbed up into tall tree branches to get a better view.

Mexican artist Antonio Ruiz (Roo-EEZ) painted this scene of a country fair in his hometown of Texcoco (Tes-KO-ko), located in central Mexico. He included many details to capture the look and feel of the town. For example, the red, white, and green striped banners are the colors of the Mexican flag. Jacaranda trees, which are found throughout Mexico and Central America, loom over the street with their long branches. Ruiz also carefully depicted the different people’s clothing, such as the judges’ suits, the young boys’ shorts and caps, and the sombreros, or wide-brimmed hats, worn by many of the spectators. Ruiz often added humorous details into his paintings, such as the goat bending down to eat something in the lower right, and the sleeping dog in the lower left corner.

Let’s Look

  • What is everyone doing in this picture?
  • How would you describe the setting—the place, season, and weather?
  • How does the artist show that the road goes far back into the distance?

Let’s Look Again

  • What moment in the race is this? Why do you think so?
  • If you could enter this picture, what sounds would you hear?
  • If you could trade places with someone in the painting, who would it be and why?

This object is included in Looking to Write, Writing to Look, a teaching kit developed by the Division of Education and is generously supported by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation Inc.

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