Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato Mexico in 1886, but moved to Mexico City with his family when he was eight. He studied in the San Carlos Academy and in the workshop of artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, who was to influence him greatly. Awarded a scholarship to study in Europe, he traveled to Paris in 1909. There, he was influenced by post-impressionism and cubism. He became especially fascinated with Picasso's cubist works. After some cubist experiments of his own, he became disenchanted with the elitist art world. In 1920, he went to Italy to study Renaissance art .
When he returned to Mexico, Rivera quickly rediscovered his roots. He decided that he wanted to create paintings which would speak directly to the common people. Active in the socialist revolution in Mexico, he felt that art could play a part in this by educating the Mexicans about their history.
His public murals illustrate hispanic culture's proud pre-Columbian past, their conquest by the Spanish, the conversion from their native religion to Catholicism, the submission of the working class by agricultural tyrannies, and the Mexican Revolution.
In addition to images about Mexico's history and revolution, Diego loved to paint ordinary Mexican life in smaller paintings. In these, he continues to use very bright colors and simplified compositions. Common subjects in his paintings were: the earth, the farmer and the laborer.
The colourful painting displays a peasant man in white clothing with a yellow sombrero, struggling on all fours with a dramatically oversized basket of flowers that is strapped to his back with a yellow sling. A woman, most likely the peasant 痴 wife, stands behind him trying to help with the support of the basket as he attempts to rise to his feet. While the flowers in the basket are strikingly beautiful to the viewer, the man does not see their beauty, but only their value as he carries them to the market for sale or exchange. The geometric shapes offer bold and intense contrasts, with each figure, item, and foliage illustrated to reflect individualism. Some believe that the enormous basket strapped to the man 痴 back is representative of the encumbrances of an untrained worker in a modern, capitalistic world.
Rivera sees the Industrial Revolution as a liberator of the laborer. All of the workers in his paintings work together like cogs of a great machine, no one serving a greater role than any other. Above the murals, he creates more allegorical images relating to the power of the people, combining images of caucasian, oriental, hispanic and black figures. Industrialization, he felt, would equalize the races as well as the social classes.
One of his masterpieces which celebrates Mexico's revolutionary peasants and Indian underclass is Flower Day from 1925. The work features a flower carrier with a basket of calla lilies on his back bending before two girls. Some believe that the scene is intended to evoke the ancient Mexican tradition of dedicating flowers to God. By combining flat, geometric shapes with curved forms and blocks of color, the work has a Cubist feel. But it is modern in a different way as well, in its clarity of expression and the simplicity with which Rivera crafts complexity of emotion and meaning
Diego Rivera Painter
Diego Rivera <ul><li>Born in 1886 </li></ul><ul><li>Studied in San Carlos Academy </li></ul><ul><li>Traveled to Paris in 1909 </li></ul>
Back to his roots <ul><li>Rivera decided he wanted to create paintings that related to common people. </li></ul><ul><li>Wanted to educate Mexicans about their history. </li></ul><ul><li>Painted images that related to Mexican Culture. </li></ul>
The Aztec World , fresco 1929-1935 National Palace, North Wall Mexico City
Mexican Life <ul><li>Diego also liked to depict ordinary Mexican life in his paintings. </li></ul><ul><li>Common subjects in these paintings were Earth, The Farmer, and The Laborer. </li></ul>
The Flower Carrier (Cargador de Flores) 1935 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art San Francisco, CA
The commissioned murals in the garden Court of the Detroit Institute of Art <ul><li>Created for Edsel Ford </li></ul><ul><li>Illustrated the work force of the Ford auto factory. </li></ul>
Flower Day <ul><li>Features a flower carrier with a basket of calla lilies bending before two girls. </li></ul><ul><li>Evokes the ancient Mexican tradition of dedicating flowers to the God. </li></ul>
Dia de la Flor (Flower Day) 1925 Image Source: Diego Rivera Web Museum