Still Raving About Rivera

Still Raving About Rivera

Diego Rivera: Mexican Artist/Muralist

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, December 8, 1886, died November 24, 1957, Mexico City

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Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, known as Diego Rivera was a famous Mexican painter and the husband of artist Frida Kahlo.  He is known for his murals painted in “Fresco” style executed in Mexico, as well as the United States. A mural is artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface, and as you can see, Rivera’s murals are huge, and very detailed, and designed to work with the architecture of the building they are part of.

 tohyf_RIVERA2Frozen Assets. 1931-32
Fresco on reinforced cement in a galvanized-steel framework, 93 ¾ x 74”
Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico

When he very young (he begins to draw at the age of three), Diego Rivera loved to paint, so much that his father covered a room of their house in Guanajuato with paper so that the child could paint all over the walls. Diego says that it was in that room where he created his first murals.

Rivera received his formal art training in Mexico City, and in 1907, then studied in Spain, France, and Italy on scholarship.  He returned to Mexico some fourteen years later, and along with the artists José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros,  became a leader of the Mexican Mural Movement that became popular after the Mexican Revolution. His murals showed native Mexican culture and heritage, working people, and dreams for the future. Diego Rivera connected making art with history, technology, and progressive politics.

During the 1920s Diego Rivera helped to create nationalist painting style in Mexico called Social Realism”, an international art movement made up of artists who show the poor and working classes, and whose artworks often criticize their living conditions.

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“Part Of Diego Rivera’s Mural Depicting Mexico’s History”, 1929 – 1945
Also Called: “México en la historia, perspectiva: El campesino oprimido”, 1935.
Near Left Staircase. Palacio Nacional. Mexico City D.F. México. (Fresco)

His murals were painted in a Fresco (“FRESH”) style, using water and pigment, which creates color, on fresh wet plaster, so the painting becomes part of the wall.

“In his best mural paintings, he (Diego Rivera) merged past, present, and future into dense, crowded visions of an essential Mexico. He drew on Mexican history, folk art, the discoveries of archaeology and other sciences. He … made something that was not there before: a unifying, celebratory image of Mexico. In his art, he unified a people …. He said in his art: you are all Mexico.”-George & Eve DeLange

Rivera’s murals were well-known in the United States by the late 1920s and he became one of the most popular artists in the US by the early 1930s.  He was asked to create three murals in San Francisco,  was invited by General Motors to create murals at the Chicago World’s Fair; and he painted murals at Rockefeller Center and the New Workers School in New York.

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“The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City”, 1931, fresco, San Francisco Art Institute.   It is a mural about murals and because it represents Rivera and his assistants creating the mural itself.

Diego Rivera with Wife Frida KahloRivera was married three times — most famously to the painter Frida Kahlo.

tohyf_RIVERA7     “Retrato de Diego Rivera” / “Portrait of Diego Rivera , by Frida Kahlo, 1937, Oil painting on wood

“An artist is above all a human being, profoundly human to the core…” –Diego Rivera

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. We were in Detroit recently and got to see the amazing Rivera Court at the magnificent Detroit Institute of Arts! http://www.dia.org/art/rivera-court.aspx


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