Biography Diego Rivera

NAME: Diego Rivera
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: December 08, 1886
DEATH DATE: November 24, 1957
EDUCATION: San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Guanajuato, Mexico
PLACE OF DEATH: Mexico City, Mexico

Diego Rivera, born December 8, 1886, in Guanajuato, Mexico, sought to make art that reflected the lives of the Mexican people. In 1921, through a government program, he started a series of murals in public buildings. Some were controversial; his Man at the Crossroads in New York City’s RCA building, which featured a portrait of Vladmir Lenin, was stopped and destroyed by the Rockefeller family.

Early Life
Now thought to be one of the leading artists of the 20th century, Diego Rivera was born on December 8, 1886, in Guanajuato, Mexico, and began drawing as a child. He studied art at the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts while he was in his teens, later traveling to Europe to live and work on his art.
Commercial Success
Rivera had some success as a Cubist painter, but the course of world events would strongly change the style and subject of his work. Inspired by the political ideals of the Mexican Revolution (1914-15) and the Russian Revolution (1917), Rivera wanted to make art that reflected the lives of the working class and native peoples of Mexico.
In 1921, through a government program, Rivera began to express his artistic ideas about Mexico, its people and its history by starting a series of murals in public buildings. In the 1930s and ’40s, Rivera painted several murals in the United States. Some of his works created controversy, especially the one he did for the Rockefeller family in the RCA building in New York City. The mural, known as “Man at the Crossroads,” featured a portrait of Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin. The artist had reportedly included Lenin in his piece to portray the turbulent political atmosphere at the time, which was largely defined by conflicting capitalist and socialist ideologies and escalating fears surrounding the Communist Party. The Rockefellers disliked Rivera’s insertion of Lenin and, thusly, asked Rivera to remove the portrait, but the painter refused. The Rockefellers then had Rivera stop work on the mural.
In 1934, Nelson Rockefeller famously ordered the demolition of “Man at the Crossroads.” Publish backlash against the Rockefellers ensued; after long proclaiming a deep dedication to the arts, the powerful family now looked both hypocritical and tyrannical. John D. Rockefeller Jr. later attempted to explain the destruction of the mural, stating, “The picture was obscene and, in the judgment of Rockefeller Center, an offense to good taste. It was for this reason primarily that Rockefeller Center decided to destroy it.”

Personal Life and Death
Rivera’s personal life was as dramatic as his artwork. In 1929, he married artist Frida Kahlo, who was roughly 20 years his junior. The two had a passionate, but stormy relationship, divorcing once in 1939 only to remarry later. She died in 1954. He then married Emma Hurtado, his art dealer.
Diego Rivera died of heart failure on November 24, 1957, in Mexico City, Mexico.
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.