Rivera Diego (1886-1957)


Diego Rivera con Frida Kahlo.

Italian version 

Rivera Diego (December 8, 1886 – November  24, 1957, born Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez in Guanajuato, Gto.) was a world-famous Mexican painter, an active communist, and husband of Frida  Kahlo. Rivera's large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, New York City. His 1931 retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City was their second.

Early life

Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato City, Guanajuato, to a Converso family (descended from Jews who converted to Roman Catholicism). Since he was ten years of age, Rivera studied art at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City. He was sponsored to continue study in Europe by Teodoro A. Dehesa Méndez, the governor of the State of Veracruz. After arrival in Europe in 1907, Rivera initially went to study with Eduardo Chicharro in Madrid, Spain, and from there went to Paris, France, to live and work with the great gathering of artists in Montparnasse, especially at La Ruche, where his friend Amedeo Modigliani painted his portrait in 1914. His circle of close friends, which included Ilya Ehrenburg, Chaim Soutine, Modigliani's wife Jeanne Hébuterne, Max Jacob, gallery owner Leopold  Zborowski, and Moise Kisling, was captured for posterity by Marie Vorobieff-Stebelska (Marevna) in her painting; Homage to Friends from Montparnasse; (1962). In those years, Paris was witnessing the beginning of cubism in paintings by such eminent painters as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. From 1913 to 1917, Rivera enthusiastically embraced this new school of art. Around 1917, inspired by Paul Cézanne's paintings, Rivera shifted toward Post-Impressionism with simple forms and large patches of vivid colors. His paintings began to attract attention, and he was able to display them at several exhibitions.


Career in Mexico

In 1920, urged by Alberto J. Pani, the Mexican ambassador to France, Rivera left France and traveled through Italy studying its art, including Renaissance frescoes. After Jose Vasconcelos became Minister of Education, Rivera returned to Mexico in 1921 to become involved in the  government sponsored Mexican mural program planned by Vasconcelos. The program included such Mexican artists as José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo, and the French artist Jean Charlot. In January 1922, he painted - experimentally in encaustic - his first significant mural Creation in the Bolívar Auditorium of the National Preparatory School in Mexico City guarding himself with a pistol against  right-wing students. In the autumn of 1922, Rivera participated in the founding of the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors, and later that year he joined the Mexican Communist Party (including its Central Committee). His murals, subsequently painted in fresco only, dealt with Mexican society and reflected the country's 1910 Revolution. Rivera developed his own native style based on large, simplified figures and bold colors with an Aztec influence clearly present in murals at the Secretariat of Public Education in Mexico City  begun in September 1922, intended to consist of one hundred and twenty-four frescoes, and finished in 1928. His art, in a fashion similar to the stellae of the Maya, tells stories. The mural “En el Arsenal” (In the Arsenal) shows on the right hand side Tina Modotti holding an ammunition belt and facing Julio Antonio Mella, in a light hat, and Vittorio Vidale behind in a black hat. Rivera's radical political beliefs, his attacks on the church and clergy, as well as his flirtations with Trotskyists and left-wing assassins made him a controversial figure even in communist circles. Some of Rivera's most famous murals are featured at the National School of Agriculture at Chapingo near Texcoco (1925–27), in the Cortés Palace in Cuernavaca  (1929-30), and the National Palace in Mexico City (1929–30, 1935). After returning to Mexico in 1934, the quality of his mural works began to gradually decline.


Later work abroad

In the autumn of 1927, Rivera arrived in Moscow, accepting an invitation to take part in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. Subsequently, he was to paint a mural for the Red Army Club in Moscow, but in 1928 he was ordered out by the authorities because of involvement in anti-Soviet politics, and he returned to Mexico. In 1929, Rivera was expelled from the Mexican Communist Party. His 1928 mural In the Arsenal was interpreted by some as evidence of Rivera's prior knowledge of the murder of Julio Antonio Mella allegedly by Stalinist assassin Vittorio Vidale. After divorcing Guadalupe (Lupe) Marin, Rivera married Frida Kahlo in August 1929. In December, he accepted a commission to paint murals in the Palace of Cortez in Cuernavaca from the American Ambassador to Mexico. In 1930, Rivera accepted an invitation to the United States, where he painted several significant works. After arriving in San Francisco in November, he painted a mural for the Stock Exchange and a fresco for the California School of Fine Art, which is now in the San Francisco Art Institute). In November 1931, Rivera had a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Rivera's wife, Frida Kahlo accompanied him to New York for the opening of the MoMA show, and though she might have a more recognizable name, many experts in the art world would be quick to name her husband as the better painter. Between 1932 and 1933, he completed a famous series of twenty-seven fresco panels entitled Detroit Industry on the walls of an inner court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. His mural Man at the Crossroads, begun in 1933 for the Rockefeller Center in New York City, was removed after a furor erupted in the press over a portrait of Vladimir Lenin it contained. As a result of the negative publicity, a further commission was cancelled to paint a mural for an exhibition at the Chicago World's Fair. In December 1933, Rivera returned to Mexico, and he repainted Man at the Crossroads in 1934 in the Palacio de Bellas  Artes in Mexico City. This surviving version was called Man, Controller  of the Universe. On June 5, 1940 Rivera returned for the last time to the United States to paint a ten-panel mural for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. Pan American Unity was unveiled November 29, 1940. The mural and its archives reside at City College of San Francisco. Rivera's work is housed in public collections in museums such as Arizona State University Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Arthur Ross Gallery (University of Pennsylvania), the Birmingham Museum; Art Gallery (UK), the DePaul University Museum (Chicago), the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Fundación Proa (Buenos Aires), the Guilford College Art Gallery (North Carolina), Harvard University Art Museums, the Hermitage Museum, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires), Museu de Arte de Săo Paulo (Brazil), the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the Phoenix Art Museum (Arizona), the San Diego Museum of Art and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art  (Iran).


Personal life

Rivera was a notorious womanizer who had fathered at least two illegitimate children by two different women. Angeline Beloff gave birth to a son, Diego (1916-1918). Maria Vorobieff-Stebelska gave birth to a daughter in 1918. He married his first wife, Guadalupe Marín, in June 1922, with whom he had two daughters. He was still married when he met an art student known as Frida Kahlo. They married on August 21, 1929 when he was forty-two and she was twenty-two. Their mutual infidelities and his violent temper led to divorce in 1939, but they remarried December 8, 1940 in San Francisco. After Kahlo's death, Rivera married Emma Hurtado, his agent since 1946, on July 29, 1955. He died on November 24, 1957.


Rivera Diego (Guanajuato 1886 - Cittŕ del Messico 1957) "Festival dei fiori" 1925, oil on canvas, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Rivera Diego (Guanajuato 1886 - Cittŕ del Messico 1957) "Ritratto di Lupe Marín" 1938, olio su tela, Museo di Arte Moderna, Mexico City.  Rivera Diego (Guanajuato 1886 - Cittŕ del Messico 1957) "Vista di Toledo" 1912, olio su tela, Fondazione Amparo R. de Espinosa Yglesias, Puebla.  Rivera Diego (Guanajuato 1886 - Cittŕ del Messico 1957) "Maternitŕ, Angelina e il piccolo Diego" olio su tela, Museo dell' Arte Alvar y Carmen T. de Carrillo Gil, Mexico City.  Rivera Diego (Guanajuato 1886 - Cittŕ del Messico 1957) "La festa del mais" dal ciclo "Visione politica del popolo messicano" 1923-24, affresco, Ministero dell' educazione, Mexico City.  Rivera Diego (Guanajuato 1886 - Cittŕ del Messico 1957) "Nudo con gigli di calla" 1944, olio su pannello rigido, Emilia Gussy de Gálvez collection, Mexico City.


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