Diego Rivera was a Mexican muralist and painter who lived in the twentieth century. Diego Mara de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodrgue was his full name. Despite the fact that his parents were Catholics, he declared himself an atheist and had a Jewish element in his personality. Perhaps this is due to the fact that his family was reported to be converse. From a young age, he had a strong desire to create art. Despite his father’s wishes for him to pursue a military career, he knew he wanted to study painting at the age of eleven and prepared himself accordingly. He began by experimenting with cubism, but subsequently moved on to postimpressionism. He eventually developed his own style. In truth, his art reflected the realities of working-class people. His sculptures also represent the culture of Mexico’s indigenous people. In terms of his art, he was adamant about not compromising, even if it meant losing a commission. Perhaps it was for the same reason that none of his marriages lasted very long.
Childhood and Adolescence
Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, on December 8, 1886. His father, Diego Rivera Acosta, was of European ancestry, and his mother, Mara del Pilar Barrientos, was of mixed European and Indian ancestry. They were both educators. Carlos, his twin brother, died while he was a child.
He began drawing on the walls of his house when he was three years old. His parents encouraged him by providing him with a separate room in which he could pursue his artistic endeavors. Canvases were also hung on the walls of other rooms.
Diego’s family relocated to Mexico City when he was six years old. Diego began his education at Carpantier Catholic College. At the age of twelve, he was enrolled in the Academy of San Carlos.
His education was based on Classical European art. Under the tutelage of numerous masters, he learned conventional color and perspective techniques. Gerardo Murillo, a well-known defender of indigenous art and culture, was one of them. He had a big influence on Diego.
Murielle assisted Diego in obtaining a trip grant in 1906. With that, he flew straight to Europe, arriving in 1907 in Spain. He studied art with Eduardo Chicharro, one of the greatest artists of the day, and was introduced to many notable figures through him.
In the city of Paris
Diego Rivera relocated to Paris in 1909 to pursue a career as a painter. He lived and worked in the Montparnasse district’s La Ruche. It was a place where struggling artists might stay. Rivera had the opportunity to meet and know a number of artists who would go on to become worldwide famous in subsequent years.
Cubism had only recently been established in Paris at the time. This art genre was used by famous painters such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque to create masterpieces. Rivera, for one, accepted it wholeheartedly.
By 1917, however, he had been influenced by Paul Cézanne and had switched to post-impressionism, which was characterized by basic forms and vibrant colors.
His paintings soon began to draw the attention of art lovers, and he began hosting exhibitions of his paintings in various locations.
Returning to Mexico
Rivera traveled to Italy in 1920. The frescos produced by prominent Renaissance artists had an indelible impression on him. Political events such as the Mexican and Russian revolutions, on the other hand, had a significant impact on his mental process. He now desired for his works to reflect the people’s aspirations as well as the culture of his motherland.
He traveled to Mexico in 1921 at the invitation of José Vasconcelos, a prominent philosopher, writer, and politician of the day. He was paid by the government to paint murals about Mexico’s history and culture in public spaces.
These paintings were not only pleasing to the eye, but they also served a greater function. A substantial portion of the Mexican population was uneducated and unaware of their country’s history at the time.
It was thought that through viewing these artworks, they would gain a better understanding of their country’s history and culture.
Rivera finished his first major mural, ‘Creation,’ on the walls of the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria’s Bolivar Auditorium in January 1922. He employed encaustic techniques here, which entails adding color to hot wax and then drawing the picture with the resulting paste.
The majority of Rivera’s murals, however, were painted outside. Paintings are done on wet lime plasters in this process, and as the lime dries, the painting becomes a part of the wall. Rivera quickly created his own style, with huge, simple figures and vibrant colors.
Rivera painted almost a hundred frescos between 1922 and 1928. Many of them were influenced by the Aztecs. Others, such as the Mayan tribe’s steles, were narrative in nature. His name slowly began to spread to other parts of the globe.
He was invited to visit Moscow and given the commission to paint a mural for the Red Army Club. However, it did not turn out as planned.
Rivera was commissioned to paint murals in the Palace of Cortés in Cuernavaca by the American Ambassador to Mexico in December 1929. He consented without hesitation.
Rivera then traveled to San Francisco in 1930 to paint a mural for the Stock Exchange City Club, for which he was paid US$25,000.
In addition, he created a fresco at the California School of Arts. Then, between 1932 and 1933, he painted twenty-seven fresco panels for the Detroit Institute of Arts’ walls, dubbed ‘Detroit Industry.’
Meanwhile, the Rockefeller family invited him to create a mural for the Rockefeller Center in New York. In 1933, he began working on it.
The painting, titled ‘Man at the Crossroad,’ sparked outrage because it featured a likeness of Vladimir Lenin. Rivera was ordered to leave after refusing to remove it, and his commission to paint at the Chicago World Fair was canceled.
Rivera re-created ‘Man at the Crossroad’ in Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes in 1934. However, for a long time after that, he did not receive any large commissions.
As a result, he concentrated on painting. Pflueger finally commissioned him to create a ten-panel mural for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco on June 5, 1940.
While the show was going on, Rivera accepted the commission and painted ‘Pan American Unity.’ As a result, he became the show’s biggest draw.
On November 29, 1940, the artwork was fully completed. Rivera was paid $1,000 each month in salary, plus the same amount in travel expenses.
Rivera painted a series of murals in Mexico City from 1945 through 1951. One of his final big publications was titled ‘The Pre-Hispanic Civilization to the Conquest.’ ‘Popular History of Mexico’ was his most recent mural in this series.
Diego’s Major Works
One of Rivera’s most important works is ‘The Detroit Industries.’ Rivera featured laborers at the Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge Plant on two of the painting’s primary panels.
Other panels depicted scientific breakthroughs in a variety of sectors. However, when viewed as a whole, they depicted the oneness of various activities and thoughts.
Another of his notable works is ‘Unión de la Expresión Artistica del Norte y Sur de este Continente,’ or ‘The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on this Continent.’
It is most commonly referred to as the ‘Pan American Unity.’ Rivera attempted to represent the fusion of US technology and Mexico’s old civilization in these paintings.
Personal History and Legacy
In late 1909, Diego Rivera married Angelina Beloff. Rivera was not a faithful husband, and their marriage was not happy. Diego, the couple’s only child, died young due to a lung issue. Rivera returned to Mexico in 1921, and the couple’s marriage was shortly annulled.
Diego had a connection with cubist painter Marie Bronislava Vorobieff-Stebelska while he was still married to Beloff. On November 13, 1919, their daughter Marika was born.
Rivera married Guadalupe Marn, a model, and novelist, in June 1922. Rivera had two kids with her: Ruth Rivera and Guadalupe Rivera. This, too, was a short-lived marriage.
On August 21, 1929, Diego Rivera married painter Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, commonly known as Frieda Kahlo de Rivera. The marriage did not work because both of them had strong tempers and had several extramarital affairs. They separated in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940, and remained together until her death on July 13, 1954.
On July 29, 1955, one year after Kahlo’s death, Rivera married his agent Emma Hurtado. He did not live long after this marriage, however. He was most likely suffering from cancer, and the physicians were powerless to help him. On November 24, 1957, in Mexico City, he died of heart failure.
Even now, Rivera is regarded as one of the best artists the world has ever seen. The house where he grew up has been turned into a museum. His works are presently housed in a variety of museums around the continent.
‘The Lacuna,’ a novel by Barbara Kingsolver, is about Rivera and his pals Leo Tolstoy and Frida Kahlo. In addition, films such as ‘Cradle Will Rock’ and ‘Frida’ pay homage to the great muralist.
Estimated Net worth
Diego is one of the wealthiest painters, as well as one of the most popular. Diego Rivera’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million.