Biography of Diego Rivera | Mexican muralist.

(Guanajuato, 1886 - city of Mexico, 1957) Mexican muralist. Mexican artists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco form the triad of the highest representatives of the Mexican muralism, a school of painting which flourished from the twenties of the last century.

Diego Rivera
The fundamental characteristics of this trend are the monumental, which aims to achieve a greater range of communicative possibilities with the popular masses (some of the murals gigantic exceed four hundred square meters); the break with academic tradition and the assimilation of the pictorial currents of the European avant-garde (Cubism, expressionism), with which the Mexican artists had opportunity to come into contact, and the integration of the revolutionary ideology in the painting, which according to them should be artistically express the problems of his time. No less important is the deep rooting of their art in the native traditions of Mexico: the great pre-Hispanic artistic past (where the mural was a consistent practice) and the Mexican popular stamp (which on the legacy of José Guadalupe Posada).


Trained at the school of fine arts of San Carlos in the Mexican capital, who had moved with his family at the age of six, Diego Rivera then studied for fifteen years (1907-1922) in several European countries (in particular Spain, France and Italy), where he became interested in avant-garde art and left academic. The works of this period reflected, on the one hand, a charged interest in synthetic Cubism (the guerrillero, 1915), assumed in his Parisian stage, and on the other a great admiration by the Italian fresco del Quattrocento (and in particular, by Giotto), what motivated his departure from the earlier Cubist aesthetic.
Identified with the revolutionary ideals of their homeland, Rivera returned from Italy to Mexico (1922), at a time when the revolution seemed consolidated. Together with David Alfaro Siqueiros he devoted himself to study in depth the Mayan and Aztec, art that would significantly influence on his later work. In collaboration with other prominent Mexican artists of the time (such as the own Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco), he founded the Union of painters, from which emerge the Mexican muralist movement, of deep indigenous root.

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo
During the Decade of the 1920s he received numerous commissions from the Government of your country make great wall compositions; in them, Rivera left the artistic currents of the time to create a national style that reflects the history of the Mexican people, from pre-Columbian times up to the revolution, with scenes of a vigorous and popular realism, and vivid colors. In this sense are famous, for example, the scenes that evoke the presence of Hernán Cortés in Mexican lands (for example, the arrival of the Conqueror to the shores of Veracruz, or meet the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II in Tenochtitlan).

The fullness of the murals

The work of Diego Rivera (and that of the muralist as national art movement) reached his artistic maturity between 1923 and 1928, when he made the frescoes in the Secretariat of public education, in city of Mexico, and the National School of agriculture from Chapingo. The first of these buildings has two adjacent courtyards (of two floors each) which the artist covered entirely with its murals. The absolute protagonist of these frescoes is the Mexican people represented in their work and in their parties. Rivera wrote that his intention was to reflect the society of Mexico as he saw it, and therefore divided reality into two broad areas: work and leisure, and distributed them in separate architectural areas.
In the series of murals done in 1927 at the National School of agriculture from Chapingo, Rivera represented their particular vision of the agrarian revolution of Mexico making use of stereotypes drawn from religious painting. This is evidenced by the obrero-campesino Alliance, the distribution of land , or Revolucion-fructificacion, whose immediate reference are the obsequies of San Francisco found in the Florentine Cathedral. Both murals cycles, the first nationalist claim, the second of a commemorative nature, embody the culmination of a new figurative language.

The landing of the Spanish in Veracruz (National Palace of Mexico)
But where Rivera really created a visual image of the modern Mexican identity was in the frescoes painted in the National Palace of Mexico since 1929. The narration, which illustrates the history of the country since pre-Columbian times, occupies three walls that are located opposite the main staircase of the building. The central wall collects the period that goes from the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1519 until the revolution, represented by its great milestones. The right describes a nostalgic and idealized vision of the pre-Columbian world, while on the left is the vision of a modern and prosperous Mexico.
EPIC reconstruction that Rivera makes national history is based on the heroic struggle of colonial liberation, and the images have an unequivocal message that gets highlighted the oppression of the indigenous and peasant population, at the same time that satirizes harshly to the ruling classes. The deliberate idealization of the pre-Hispanic world, with emphasis on the figure of the Indian as a symbolic representation of the national virtues, contrasts with the world of the European settlers, with the aim of exalting the uniqueness of the Mexican identity both against foreigners and against internal dictators.

Last years

Rivera reflected thus his adherence to the Socialist cause in their mural realizations; in fact, he always reaffirmed their status as politically committed artist, and was one of the founders of the Mexican Communist Party. He visited the Soviet Union in 1927-28, and, back in Mexico, he married the painter Frida Kahlo, who had been his model. It was a stormy relationship because of the irrepressible fans of Rivera women (had to take as a lover Cristina Kahlo, the younger sister of Frida), but the rapport between the two resulted also in stages of peace and creativity, and the home of the couple in Coyoacán become Centre of unique political and artistic gatherings.

The male driver of the universe (1934), reworking of the mural man at the crossroads of the Rockefeller of New York Center, which was destroyed.
Between 1930 and 1934, Rivera lived in United States. Among the works in this period it deserves to be highlighted all painted in the courtyard of the Institute of the arts in Detroit (1932-1933), where it became exalted praise for industrial production. Following these frescoes, began the development of a large mural for Rockefeller Center in New York. Under the slogan the man at the crossroads, Rivera painted an allegory in which science and technology grant his gifts to the agriculture, industry and medicine, but the inclusion of the figure of Lenin in a prominent place among the representatives of the people triggered a violent controversy in the American press.
The refusal of Rivera suppress the figure of the Soviet leader, the dispute was resolved with the destruction of the fresh. With some modifications and a new title (the male driver of the universe), Rivera would paint the same subject at the Palace of fine arts of the city of Mexico in 1934. From 1936 to 1940, Rivera was devoted especially to paint landscapes and portraits. Essayist and controversial, published by André Breton a Manifeste pour l'art révolutionnaire (1938).

Detail of the mural dream of an afternoon Sunday at the alameda (1947)
During the 1940s it continued to develop its activity of muralist in various public places, and his works followed causing controversies; the most famous of them was dream of an afternoon Sunday at the alameda (1947), portrait of an imaginary trip that that match featured characters of Mexican history, from the colonial period to the revolution. In this mural placed the phrase "God does not exist" on a poster held by the atheist writer of the century XIX Ignacio Ramírez, the necromancer, made that generated virulent reactions among the religious sectors of the country.
Mexican painter bequeathed his country his works and collections: it donated to the town a building constructed by him, the Anahuacalli Museum, where collections of pre-Columbian art, are preserved and his house in Mexico City was converted in the Diego Rivera Studio Museum to houses works and his drawings as well as his collection of folk art.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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