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Diego Rivera

Mexican  •  1886-1957

Biography

Diego Rivera began drawing at the age of three, and by ten he was enrolled at the San Carlos Academy in Mexico City. In 1907, he traveled to Europe on a scholarship to continue his artistic studies. Whilst in Paris, Rivera embraced the advent of Cubism, and later Post-Impressionism, taking inspiration from such European artists as Picasso and Cézanne.

In 1921, Rivera returned to Mexico and became involved in the government-sponsored Mexican mural program. He became best-known for his frescoes painted in a distinctive style characterized by bold colors and ample, Renaissance-inspired figures. Rivera was an atheist and joined the Mexican Communist party in 1922. He was married five times, including twice to Frida Kahlo, with whom he had a famously volatile relationship.

Insights

  • In 1939, Leon Trotsky lived with Rivera and Kahlo in Mexico City whilst in exile.

  • In 1933, Rivera completed Detroit Industry, a series of 27 frescoes at the Detroit Institute of Arts. During the era of 1950s McCarthyism, a large sign was erected condemning Rivera's politics as 'detestable' while defending the murals' artistic merit.

  • In 1931, Diego Rivera became the first Latin American artist to have a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

"I've never believed in God. But I believe in Picasso."

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