Diego Rivera

Between 1910 and 1920, Mexico underwent an era of profound political and social upheaval. Revolution and civil war destroyed the old order and a new, socialist regime emerged. At its centre was a group of art activists led by the charismatic painter Diego Rivera. Together with José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo, these artists set out to bring art to the masses through murals depicting a united Mexican society.

Born in Guanajuato in 1886, Rivera studied at the National School of Fine Arts before receiving a scholarship to travel to Europe, where he settled in Paris in 1907. In 1921, answering the call to intellectuals to leave their ivory towers and join the revolutionaries in establishing a new national culture, he returned to Mexico.

His first commissions were murals for the National Preparatory School and the Ministry of Education; the latter he described as an attempt to ‘reflect the social life of Mexico as I saw it, and through my vision of the truth to show the masses the outline of the future.’

In 1929, Rivera married the artist Frida Kahlo, a partnership that was loving and tempestuous in equal measure. By the 1930s, he was being commissioned for murals in the United States too — in Detroit, San Francisco and New York — and had become a bona fide star of the art world.

In 1931, Rivera was invited to exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and arrived six weeks in advance to create the murals for the show. After the opening, he added three more murals depicting life in New York City, focusing on the plight of the worker during the Great Depression. These murals became pivotal in shaping the debate about the social and political value of public art during a period of economic crisis.

Throughout his life, Rivera’s commitment to communism and his close relationship with Russia caused controversy. In 1934, a mural commissioned for the Rockefeller Center was destroyed following the artist’s refusal to paint out a picture of Lenin. In 1955 he was diagnosed with cancer; he died in November 1957 in his studio in San Angel.

Although best-known for his murals, Rivera also made a number of easel paintings, watercolours and drawings. In May 2018, his painting The Rivals realised $9,762,500 in The Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller sale, setting a world record price at auction for not just Rivera but any Latin American artist.

DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

Apunte de mujer cargando canasta con flores

DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

Con la carga a espaldas

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niña con rebozo

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Lavanderas con zopilotes

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Autorretrato also known as The Firestone Self-Portrait

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Nieves desnuda de rodillas sobre un petate

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niña con muñeca de trapo

DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

Retrato de Anita Antunes (Diana Cazadora)

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Niña con vestido rosa

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Portrait of Linda Christian

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Communards (Comuna de Paris)

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niña con vestido rosa

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Madre con hijos (also known as Mother with Two Children )

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niña sentada con flores

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Retrato de Carmelita Avilés

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Vendedora de flores en Tehuantepec

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Cargando alcatraces (Tres mujeres, una sentada)

DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

Descansando (Hombre sentado junto a un tronco)

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niño Jesús Sánchez

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Retrato de Inesita Martínez

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Escena nocturna (also known as Carnaval )

DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

Cargador de flores andando (El vendedor de gladiolas y hortensias)

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Portrait of Muriel Shirley Lipsey

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Vendedora de flores

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Flowers for the Market

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Sembrador de coles also known as Man with Lettuce

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Tres hombres construyendo un huacal (also known as Tres hombres trabajando )

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Retrato de Xavier Guerrero

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niño con alcatraces

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Paisaje con montañas y árboles frutales

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niña con flores amarillas

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Niña con alcatraces (also known as Alcatraces)

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

La merienda (also known as Grupo comiendo con canasta y perro)

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

La mujer de collar, Regina Rubinoff Tomars (also known as Dama en azul)

DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

La bañista en el río (Juchitán , Oaxaca)

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Puesto de frutas

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Mujer sentada ( also known as Vendedora de cocos)

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Man, Woman and Child with Clay Pot

DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

Danzantito (Niño danzante de Huejotzingo)