Mexican painter Diego Rivera was a controversial and complex man yet he was one of Mexico’s most important painters and one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. He became a sensation during his lifetime and the effects of his art internationally were impressive. Rivera helped to reintroduce the art of fresco, or mural, painting to the modern world and renewed an interest in Mexican folk art. His murals were expansive and focused on history as well as social and political themes. He possessed radical political views as a Communist which created a great deal of controversy around him.
Rivera’s personal life was just as bold and colorful as his murals. He was married four different times and two of those marriages were to fellow painter Frida Kahlo. They had a turbulent romance which was, and is still, a source of public interest.
His dream was to be an artist of the Americas. A series of trips that he made to the United States from the 1930s to 1940s helped to change the course of painting in America. He played a big role in changing America’s concept of public art though many of his murals drew controversy as well. His 1933 mural for the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan portrayed a picture of Communist leader Lenin creating such an uproar that the mural was destroyed. Another controversial mural, created in 1948 for the Hotel de Prado in Mexico, included the words “God does not exist”. This mural was defaced only to have the words carved in again and then be covered for the next nine years.
No matter the uproars or controversy Diego Rivera’s talent for painting murals and carrying on the tradition of folk art have led to his continued popularity and influence. Read more about Mexico’s beloved painter in his biography. Then learn more about his paintings.