Rivera, Diego

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rivera, Diego

Diego Rivera (ŧħyā´gō rēvā´rä), 1886–1957, Mexican mural painter, studied as a youth with Posada and other Mexican painters; husband of Frida Kahlo. The native sculpture of Mexico deeply impressed him. In Europe (1907–9, 1912–21) he worked in several countries and was influenced by the paintings of El Greco and Goya. He had close association with Cézanne and Picasso and with communistic Russians in exile. He became convinced that a new form of art should respond to "the new order of things … and that the logical place for this art … belonging to the populace, was on the walls of public buildings." Returning in 1921 to Mexico, he painted, with the assistance of younger artists, large murals dealing with the life, history, and social problems of Mexico, in the Preparatory School and the Ministry of Education in Mexico City and the Agricultural School of Chapingo. To the peasants and workers he became a sort of prophet. He visited Moscow in 1927–28 and upon his return painted in the National Palace and in the Palace of Cortés at Cuernavaca. In the United States he painted frescoes in the luncheon club of the Stock Exchange and in the Fine Arts Building, both in San Francisco, and murals in the Detroit Institute of Arts, giving his interpretation of industrial America as exemplified in Detroit. A mural for Rockefeller Center, New York City, was destroyed by order of his sponsors because of the inclusion of a portrait of Lenin. The mural was reproduced in Mexico City at the Palace of Fine Arts. Rivera in 1936 interceded with President Cárdenas to permit Trotsky to come to Mexico. In 1956 the artist went to Moscow for an operation. Several months before his death he announced his affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church.

See Portrait of America (1934) and Portrait of Mexico (1937), with illustrations by Rivera and text by B. D. Wolfe; autobiography (1960); biographies by P. Marnham (1998) and P. Hamill (1999); study by L. Brenner (1987); Detroit Institute of the Arts, Diego Rivera: A Retrospective (1986).

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