Diego Rivera (1886-1957)


Diego Rivera\'s art was one of the columns on which one of the strongest movements in american painting was to find support: mexican muralism. His art greatly depends on a vocabulary born from a mixture between Gauguin and the aztec and mayan sculptures. His works range from murals and pencil drawings to book illustrations and political writings. Diego Rivera, using simplified forms and vivid colors, brilliantly rescued the precolombine past, as well as the most important moments of Mexico\'s history: the land, the factory and land workers, the customs and the popular way of life. Diego Rivera\'s contribution to modern mexican art was decisive in murals and conventional painting; he was a revolutionary painter who wanted to take the art to a broad audience, to the street and buildings, using a precise and direct language with a realistic style, full of social meaning. Parallel to his creative effort, Diego Rivera teached and gathered a magnificent collection of mexican popular art.


First years.


Diego María Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, better known as Diego Rivera, was born in the mexican city of Guanajuato, on december 8th 1886. Throughout his scholar years the gift for painting slowly developed. When he was barely ten years old, Diego\'s family moved to Mexico City. There, he obtained a government scholarhip to attend to the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos (San Carlos\' Fine Arts Academy), in which he remained until he was expelled in 1902, due to his participation in the student revolts of that year. The influences he received while in Mexico\'s capital were varied, going from those received from his first teacher, who was a pupil of Ingres,to those from José Guadalupe Posada, engraver in whose workshop Diego worked and whose influence was to be decisive in his subsequent artistic development.


First exposition and travel to Europe.


Five years later, Diego had his first exposition, which was a great success among the public; this earned him a Veracruz\'s government scholarship to continue his pictoric education in Spain, at the San Fernando de Madrid school. From there he traveled to France, Belgium, Holland and Great Britain, between 1908 and 1910, until he finally moved to Paris in 1911. During this trip he was influenced by post-impresionism, mainly by Paul Cézanne\'s art. This moved him to experiment with cubism and some other new styles, in whose languages Diego unfolded freely, creating original artworlks full of harmony. In 1910 he also exhibited forty of his artworks in Mexico, with which, even though his vigorous style was not fully developed, he obtained a favorable reaction from the public.


Diego Rivera, muralist.


It was always Rivera\'s ambition to artistically depict the events, ideas and hopes of the Mexican Revolution. To find an suitable method to accomplish this, he had to try with the fresco technique, which consists of painitng directly on a wet mixture of sand and lime, to help the color penetrate it, and get fixed when the mixture dries. Again in Europe, Rivera presented his work in Madrid and Paris. In 1920 he went to Italy to study the Renaissance frescos, and investigated the mural techniques of the italian renaissance painter Giotto, whose influence made him to separate himself from the cubist movement, in order to involve himself more profoundly with the social scenes that surrounded him . Before getting back to Mexico, Diego had hundreds of sketches that he would finish at his return.


From the experiences gathered in this voyage, Rivera developed a narrative and lineal style, widely using flat colors, which he used back in Mexico, in 1921, after Álvaro Obregón\'s election as president. Again in his homeland, he founded, together with José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, a pictorical movement known as escuela mexicana de pintura (mexican school of painting). During that time, he worked in the elaboration of the Escuela National Preparatoria frescos in Mexico City and for the Mexican Education Ministry. To this period belongs one of his great artworks, "La tierra fecunda", which was painted for the Escuela Nacional de Agricultura de Chapingo (Chapingo National Agriculture School). He also involved himself, as well as Orozco, in politics, and in his mural paintings, wether historic or symbolic, the voice of the social-revolutionary speech and the sound of