From 1913 to 1917 Diego Rivera produced around 200 cubist paintings, of both the synthetic and analytic kinds. Following the precepts of Cézanne, he sought to draw out the geometrical forms of each one of the elements that composed his paintings.
Young Man with Fountain Pen (1914) is one of the masterpieces from Rivera’s analytic cubism period. The painting depicts a man seated at a desk or table in the act of writing. He has a sheaf of papers in one hand and a fountain pen in the other. Each line and geometrical shape employed by Rivera helps the viewer see the figure in its totality, full face, in profile, and from the back, in a display of angles whereby the artist tried to express the three-dimensionality of the figure.
By this time, Rivera began to mix sand and other similar materials into his paint, so that Young Man with Fountain Pen shows several textures, worked at times with pointillist decorative motifs and at times with impasto.
This work was part of the first and only exhibition devoted entirely to Diego Rivera’s work at the Galerie Berthe Weill, from 21 April to 6 May 1914.