In November, MoMa (The Museum of Modern Art) announced that it would have an exhibition of Diego Rivera’s murals. When we heard, we went right away! In fact, I think we went the next day, right after the exhibition had opened! It was so fascinating to learn about this tremendous artist who indeed, left a huge footprint on humanity. The exhibition included murals, which Rivera painted specifically for MoMa. The murals are portable.
Diego Rivera With Wife & Artist, Frida Kahlo
Diego Rivera: A Mexican Artist With A Message To The World About His Country
Diego Rivera was a man who strictly worked for the people. Yes, he was a Communist and supported the Communist ideals. He painted people. That was everything he did. He put the spotlight on the workman and indigenous people of Mexico. He saw poor people being worked to death and that’s why Communism was a movement that turned him on. Rivera was closely associated with Communists. He was even invited to visit Russia where he closely studied what was happening there. He had sketchbooks filled with drawings of the people of Russia. Yet, what we must know is that Rivera did not, under any means, support what Stalin was doing. Yes, he did support Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
Check out this beautiful mural of Mexicans gathering sugar cane:
It’s really fantastic what Rivera did for humanity. It astounds me when I look at his art. He completely devoted himself and his art to people. Although the exhibition in MoMa was absolutely excellent, one day I plan to go to Mexico City, because Diego painted that entire city. It’s so common for people to go see the murals that Michelangelo painted in Italy, but let’s travel to Mexico City this time and marvel at the work created for people by Diego Rivera!!!
Just look at this mural, called “The Indigenous World,” by Rivera, located at the National Palace in Mexico City!
So Why Did Diego Paint Murals?
Most artists would have worked with oil paints and canvas at that time, but Diego Rivera painted fresco’s. In his youth, Rivera traveled to Italy and studied the skill of painting a fresco. This is a techniques that requires the artist to paint in sections and very quickly, because a fresco dries fast! A fresco is wet plaster, so basically you have to paint on the plaster before it dries. If any of you have ever broken and arm or a leg and had to get a cast, then you know just how quickly the plaster dries! The great aspect of a fresco though is that it can last a lifetime!
So back to our original question. Why did Rivera paint with frescos? Our theory is that Rivera wanted to leave his mark for a lifetime, so that not only would we never forget him, but for the world to never forget the hard workers and indigenous people of Mexico!
Diego Rivera in New York City:
As Diego rose to fame, he was invited to come to America. He painted the portable murals for MoMa in New York City and soon enough Rockefeller commissioned Diego to paint a mural in the Rockefeller Center.
Although Diego enjoyed the parties and the crowd in New York City. The glitz and the glamour of New York City, did not stop him from realizing the cruel reality that the workman and work-woman had to go through in America. And so when he painted for MoMa, he painted reality. Look at this extraordinary mural of Industrial, dark New York:
Lastly, Was The Famous Rockefeller Commission:
It’s very difficult to show the detail of this immense mural, but please do google it for more detailed images. The title is, “A Man At The Crossroads.” Shortly, after this mural was completed, Rockefeller’s grandson, Nelson Rockefeller, had it covered up. This was a tragedy for Rivera and many lovers of Rivera’s work. This is beacause Rivera refused to remove one detail of the mural. And that was a portrait of Lenin amongst the crowd. Unfortunately, Rockefeller is a true symbol of Capitalism and having Lenin in there would not match, symbolically.
Here is a photograph of Rivera’s mural covered up:
I hope you enjoyed reading and discovering more about this immense artist as much as we enjoyed learning more about him!
P.S. – I just discovered that Diego wrote his own autobiography. I’ve added it on my to-read list and maybe you’ll all be interested as well!
Peace & Love!
Molly and Natalia