Diego Rivera: A Memorable Figure in the Twentieth Century Painting Scene - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1717 Words
Date:  2023-03-21


Diego Rivera was a memorable and prominent figure in the twentieth century who was actively involved in painting (McKiernan, 2009). He is considered to have painted for approximately fifty years whereby he mainly focused on painting murals (Rivera, 2017). He also helped to create and lead the Mexican mural movement that was made up of artists who focused on mural paintings. He painted murals in various parts of the world such as Mexico, the United States, and Europe (McKiernan, 2009). In the early stages of his career, he engaged in cubism which he later left and joined the post-impressionism, however his unique perspective and style was immediately recognized as his own. His work of art is considered to have inspired many people across the globe, for instance it inspired painters and politicians across the globe. Throughout his entire career, he was well known by the population for leaning on the Marxism revolutionary, which become a significant counter cultural symbol of figure of the twentieth century and also created a huge impact in art. The aim of this paper is to affirm that Diego Rivera life and work was greatly influenced by the political and historical event that happened during his lifetime.

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Bibliographical Information

Diego Rivera was born in the year 1886 in Mexico whereby he portrayed his artistic talents at a very tender age (McKiernan, 2009). By the age of ten years, he joined an art school where he developed most of his art skills. While in school, Rivera was trained on various drawing skills and techniques such as, the trainings based on the conservative European academies, classical sculptures and the traditional techniques. Later on, he relocated to Spain where he studied the artistic works of Velazquez, Goya. In Paris, Rivera became a follower of cubism, which was then considered to be a revolutionary painting. However due to the consistent disagreements with some of the movement members, he opted to leave the circle and terminate all his friendships with members such as Picasso, and Braque. Later on in the year 1921, the Diego Riviera returned to Mexico with a new artistic perspective that was mainly influenced by his study of ancient and classical art (Rivera, 2017). After his return in Mexico, he collaborated with various schools across the country whereby he continued his mural painting artistic works. He also became involved with the country's politics after joining the revolutionary union of Mexican technical workers and his entry into the Mexican communist party.

Rivera's radical and informed ideas about education made him to create enemies in the student's body and in the conservative faculties. This made him to be expelled from the country's communist's party due to his cooperation with the national government. Although he was expelled from the communist party, he still got some support from ambassador to Mexico who allowed him to paint various murals in the Cortes palace showcasing the history of the city. The ambassador also offered him a chance to go to the United States where he lived for years showcasing his artistic talents. His stay in the United States ended in the year 1933 when john Rockefeller introduced and order to destroy all murals that he had initially commissioned. During his old years he continued painting various types of murals, he produced a large number of oil portraits most of which focused on the Mexican bourgeoisie. However, he later died in the year 1957 after he succumbed to cancer (Mingo, 2009). . Throughout his life, Rivera has numerous successes. Some of them include, first, he perceived an artist to be an artisan who is at the service of the community who was required to display art in a visually accessible language. secondly, through his politically and socially expansive artistic narrative, focus and vision he had chance to inspire numerous artists such as Jackson Pollock , Ben Shahn and Thomas hart (Delpar & Smith, 2018).

Exploration of the Research Question

Throughout his artistic career, Diego Rivera's work was highly influenced by the political and historical event that took place throughout his lifetime. Most of the work that he composed tried to communicate a particular message to the population or express a particular feeling to the people. On the other hand, his life and the decisions he made were also influenced by the political and historical events. These influences made him make various decisions that raised criticism. Diego Rivera work and life was influenced by the political and historical events that took place in various ways that include, first, Rivera was a long time Marxist who belonged to the maxism community party. He also had developed strong ties with the Soviet Union during his visit to Russia where he also took part in teaching monumental painting in the Moscow school of art (Mingo, 2009). Considering that Rivera is an example of the socially committed artists, he used his mural artwork to express his outspoken commitments to various political causes. He depicted or portrayed his subjects using words such as the American workers, Mexican peasantry, and the revolutionary figures. On various occasions, his uncompromising and unspoken leftist politics highlighted in his work collided with the wishes of the rich individuals and raised significant controversies. Both inside and outside the art world. Every artwork that he created during his visit in various part of the world expressed some of his political commitment our support. For instance in his painting on Zapatista Landscape his used his skills to express his feelings and concerns about the Mexican revolutionary leader referred to as Emiliano Zapata. Diego represented this artist using various attributes or characteristics such as a rifle, hat, and a bandolier (Mingo, 2009). Each of the attribute used by Diego Rivera tried to express a particular meaning or issue to the population. Most of his art works that were influenced by the political experience such as the painting on the American workers raised a lot of criticism from those in power.

Secondly, the Mexican history and culture was also among the major themes or aspects that influenced Diego's art. Diego Rivera was highly fascinated and amused by wide collection of the pre Colombian artefacts that created a clear image of the Mexican daily life and history since the beginning on the Mexican revolution to the present post-revolutionary (Delpar & Smith, 2018). The Mexican history and culture influenced the way he expressed his art to the people. For instance, he used some of the traditional artefacts that had a particular meaning to the people to express certain thoughts' and feelings to his followers. Such historical and cultural impression created in his art helped people to learn about the things that happened in the past or to remind the people of the war that they have fought and to help them keep both their cultural an historical pride. For instance, in his art on dream of a Sunday afternoon on Alameda Park Rivera tries to highlight the Mexican history in the dynamic and crowded composition. In that painting, the artist represents himself as a child who is sited at the centre holding hands with one of the most cerebrated individual known as Guadalupe (Lozano, 2008). In this artwork, he has combined his childhood life experiences with the historical events that took place in the alameda park in Mexico City. Some of the historical events in this artwork include, the crematorium the victims in inquisition during the error of Cortes and United States army encampment in the park. Rivera deliberately poses this images or figures, with the intention of rejecting the western cultures or traditions in the linear narrative.

Thirdly, Rivera chose to portray his art using murals in order to appreciate the public and large-scale accessibility of his art. This was considered to be the opposite of what he referred to as the elitist character of paintings in the museums and galleries (Delpar & Smith, 2018). In the past most artistic works, particularly those displayed in the museum were drawn on small portraits that made it hard for the population or views to grasp the intended message. People also had a very hard time concentrating and analysing every aspect of the picture due to its reduced size. This made, Diego to change his way of expressing art, thus adopting the murals, which were visible from a distance. Also communicating a particular message through the murals was easy since the images were clear to everyone. Rivera used the walls of public buildings and in universities as his canvas both in the United States and in Mexico. Using the wall as a canvas, he created unique types of art that made murals to be considered as a form of art that assisted in the reinvention of public art within the United States.


Diego Rivera is memorable is one of the most prominent artist who produced some of the most memorable art works. The artist used mainly used murals to showcase most of his artwork compared to the other artist during his period who used portraits. The main reason why he used murals was because they had a better view and they could easily capture the message being communicated without any strain. His artwork was mainly adopted in public institutions such as universities due to their significant value and impact to the society and its population. Diego Rivera entire artwork is considered to have been influenced by the historical and political events that occurred throughout his lifetime. These political and historical events influenced his art in various ways that include, first, he used his art to express his outspoken commitment to various political parties secondly, and he used his art to remind people of the events that happened in the past.


Delpar, H., & Smith, S. J. (2018). Mexican Culture, 1920-1945. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. https://oxfordre.com/latinamericanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.001.0001/acrefore-9780199366439-e-582

Lozano, L. M., Coronel Rivera, J., Taschen, B., & Rivera, D. (2008). Diego Rivera, the complete murals. https://olin.tind.io/record/134809/

Mingo, J. T. (2009). Preserving Rivera and Kahlo: photography and reconstruction. Future Anterior, 6(1), 50-67. https://dadun.unav.edu/bitstream/10171/5217/1/jsp%5B1%5D.pdf

McKiernan, M. (2009). Diego Rivera Detroit Industry (1932-1933) North wall fresco, lower panel 5.398 m 13.716 m. Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, USA. Occupational Medicine, 59(4), 218-219. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqp067

Rivera, D. (2017). The revolution in painting. In Man in Adaptation (pp. 451-452). Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780203786598/chapters/10.4324/9780203786598-41

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Diego Rivera: A Memorable Figure in the Twentieth Century Painting Scene - Research Paper. (2023, Mar 21). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/diego-rivera-a-memorable-figure-in-the-twentieth-century-painting-scene-research-paper

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