Diego Rivera




Diego Rivera was born on December 13, 1886 in Guanajuato, Mexico. Soon recognized as a prodigy, Rivera began drawing at age three, and at eleven enrolled at the prestigious Academia de San Carlos. By the time of his graduation in 1905 Rivera had become an accomplished painter, and in 1907 thanks to a travel grant he visited Spain and France. In 1910 the artist returned to Mexico, where a large exhibition of his work was inaugurated at the Academia. On the day the exhibition opened the Mexican Revolution broke out and Rivera returned to Paris, where he remained until 1919. During his Parisian stay Rivera worked primarily in a cubist mode. In 1915 increasingly moved by the Mexican revolution, Rivera painted the Cubist masterpiece Zapatist Landscape, which foreshadowed his growing consciousness of his national heritage.

A decisive shift in Rivera’s career took place in 1917, when the artist abandoned Cubism and returned to figuration, a choice reinforced by his compatriots urging him to return to Mexico to participate in the public mural program promoted by José Vasconcelos, the newly appointed Minister of Education. To prepare for this ambitious task Rivera spent a year studying Renaissance fresco cycles in Italy. In July 1921 he returned to Mexico and in 1922 he began his first government-sponsored mural, The Creation, in the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria in Mexico City. Imbued with motifs drawn from Pre-Columbian culture, Rivera’s murals served a primarily didactic and propagandistic function: teaching ancient and modern Mexican history as well as supporting Mexico’s post-revolutionary government.

1929 proved an important year for Rivera, when he was appointed Director of the Academia de San Carlos, created the History of Mexico mural for the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City and married the artist Frida Kahlo. By the 1930s a right-wing government had ascended to power forcing Rivera to resign as director of the Academia. Invited to paint a mural in San Francisco, Rivera seized the opportunity and left Mexico, where life had become increasingly difficult for the artist. Between 1930 and 1934 Rivera painted five murals in the USA, including the controversial Man at the Crossroads for the Radio Corporation of America. Rivera returned to Mexico in 1934, and between 1937 and 1942 he dedicated himself almost exclusively to easel painting while his mural commissions reduced in number. In 1942 Rivera began the construction near Coyoacán of the pyramid-shape residence and private museum, where his vast collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts were housed. In 1953 he created his last mural for the façade of the Teatro de los Insurgentes in Mexico City. Frida Kahlo died in 1954 and the following year Rivera married Emma Hurtado. He died on November 24, 1957 in Mexico City.

credits: Hangar Design Group