20% OFF FRAMING for a limited time only

Diego Rivera Artist Biography

Diego Rivera's murals were hugely inspirational to the Mexican people. He channelled enormous amounts of energy into his works, driven by his fierce nationalism and socialist identity. Diego Rivera's skill lay in the riveting way in which he rendered graphic scenes, combining traditional and modern scenes using both stylized and realistic images. At the same time, his paintings showed great compassion for his countrymen and he often infused his work with a great deal of charm and sensuality.

Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato in 1886 and his family moved to Mexico City when he was six. By the age of ten he had enrolled at the Academia de San Carlos and studied under a number of influential teachers including Félix Parra and Jos Maria Velasco. Disagreeing with the system of photographic realism introduced by the new director, Antonio Fabrés, he left the academy in 1902 and took up painting full-time.

He had his first exhibition in 1907 and was awarded a grant to study in Madrid at the Academia de San Fernando. From 1908 to 1909 he travelled widely around Europe before returning to Mexico in 1910 and witnessed the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. In 1911, Rivera was back in Paris where he was influenced by the Pointillist and Cubist movement with such eminent painters as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris. He was to remain in Europe for ten years.

By 1921, Alvaro Obregon had been elected President of Mexico and Rivera, with his strong personality, became the leading artist under his administration. Rivera undertook a number of murals that glorified the history and peoples of Mexico. Often huge in scale they decorate many public buildings in Mexico City. One of the most magnificent, although left unfinished at his death, was his mural for the National Palace in 1929, depicting the history of Mexico.

Diego Rivera spent four years in the United States from 1930, painting a number of frescoes, the most famous being a series on industry in Detroit.

In the late 1930's, he went through a slow period, in terms of work. He had no major mural commissions around this time so he devoted himself to painting other works. Diego Rivera returned to murals with one made for the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition held in San Francisco. In Mexico City, he spent from 1945 to 1951 working on a series of murals known as "From the Pre-Hispanic Civilization to the Conquest." His last mural was called "Popular History of Mexico." Diego Rivera died on November 24, 1957.

Since his death, Diego Rivera is remembered as an important figure in 20th century art. "He liked to be seen with women and he loved women very much. Only one thing pleased him more than being out to dinner or to a gala celebration with two beautiful women, that was free time to paint... Painting was his true love." Lola Olmedo, a close friend.

More art prints from Diego Rivera

The Flower-Seller By Diego Rivera
Scroll To Top