Diego Rivera was born December 8, 1886, in Guanajuato, Mexico. At the age of ten,
began studying art at the San Carlos Academy in Mexico City, in the shop of
Félix Parra. In 1907, Rivera received a travel grant and went to Spain to
study under Eduardo Chicharro. While in Europe, he traveled to England and Belgium,
but he eventually settled in Paris. It was in Paris that Rivera was influenced
Picasso, Braque, Klee, Dérain, Mondrian, and Cézanne. From 1909 to
1920, Rivera traveled around Europe with Angelina Beloff, a young Russian painter.
Between 1913 and 1917, Rivera made more than 200 Cubist paintings, but after a
falling out with Picasso, and a dispute with the critic Pierre Reverdy, he turned
away from Cubism, and began to work more in the style of Cézanne.
While in Paris, Rivera also met fellow Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. In
1921, following the Mexican Revolution, Rivera and Siqueiros returned to Mexico.
There, together with other artists, including José Clemente Orozco, they
formed the Painters' Syndicate, which issued a manifesto promoting public murals
with social context. It was during this time that Rivera joined the Mexican
Communist Party. In December 1921, Rivera started painting his first major mural
the Bolivar Auditorium of the National Preparatory School in Mexico City. Murals
that followed included works for the Ministry of Public Education building in
City, the National School of Agriculture at Chapingo, the Cortés Palace at
Cuernavaca, and the National Palace in Mexico City. In 1922, Rivera married
Guadalupe Marin, by whom he had two daughters. Their marriage fell apart in 1924,
and in August 1929 Rivera married the artist Frida Kahlo.
In the early 1930s Rivera traveled to the United States, where he created murals
which included works for the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco, the San
Francisco Art Institute, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Rockefeller
Center and the New Workers’ School in New York City. His Rockefeller Center mural,
Man at the Crossroads, was unfinished and subsequently destroyed by the Center
because one of the depicted figures resembled Vladimir Lenin. (Rivera later
reproduced this mural at the Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City.)
As a result of the Rockefeller Center scandal, Rivera was without mural commissions
for a few years. During this time he produced more portraits and easel paintings.
In Rivera’s last years he created several murals for buildings in Mexico City,
including Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park for the Hotel del Prado in
Mexico City, and From the Pre-Hispanic Civilization to the Conquest for the National
Palace. Rivera died November 24, 1957, in Mexico City.