Art of the 20th Century

 




Art Styles in 20th century Art Map



 





Diego Rivera







Self Portrait
1930


 

 


 

CONTENTS

An Artist is Born

Apprentice Years in Europe

The Mural - a Post-Revolutionary Ideal

Communist Ideology for Capitalist Clients

From Recognition to Renown

Dream of Peace and Unity: the Last Journey

Appendix:
collection "Frida" - Frida Kahlo

 

 

 

 


Diego Rivera, 1924
Ministry of Education, Mexico City




The Mural - a Post-Revolutionary Ideal

 

 

Tina Modotti, an American of Italian extraction, who was later well-known as a photographer and a Communist activist in Mexico and the Soviet Union and in the Spanish Civil War, had already visited Mexico in 1922 and met Rivera, Xavier Guerrero and other members of the progressive artists' group. In June 1923 she came to Mexico again with the American photographer Edward Weston and his son Chandler. She greatly admired Rivera's monumental work, and took Weston to the Ministry of Education to show him the murals. On 7 December 1923 he recorded his impressions of the mural-painter in his diary: "I observed him closely. His six-shooter, ready for use, and his bandoleer were in marked contrast to his friendly smile. They call him the Lenin of Mexico. The artists here are very close to the Communist movement; no salon politics for them. Rivera has small, sensitive hands, like a craftsman's, his hair falls back from his forehead, leaving a large area over half his face free, a mighty dome, broad and high. Chandler is pretty impressed with Diego - his huge proportions - his infectious laugh - his mighty revolver. 'Does he use it to defend his pictures with?' he asked." In one mural on the second floor of the stairwell of the SEP building Rivera uses a photograph that Weston took of him as a model for the self-portrait that is to be seen in The Painter, the Sculptor and the Architect. In this painting Rivera put into his narrative cycle his conception of the plastic artist on the Italian Renaissance model -painter, sculptor and architect of a Gesamtkunstwerk.
 


Weston Edward

(American Photographer, 1886-1958)
 



Diego Rivera, 1923



Tina Modotti, 1925



Tina Modotti
 



Tina Modotti
 



Tina Modotti



Tina Modotti



Tina Modotti

 


Tina Modotti
(1896 – 1942)
Italian photographer, model, silent film actress, and leftist who once playfully described
her profession as "men".
 



Tina Modotti
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in the May Day march
1929

 



Tina Modotti
Bandolier, corn, guitar
1927



Tina Modotti
Woman of Tehauntepec carrying jecapixtle
1929



Tina Modotti
Hands of the puppeteer
1929

 

Rivera's mural cycle at the Ministry of Education is often described as one of his most successful works. "It is surpassed perhaps only by the chapel in Chapingo," writes the Mexican poet and Nobel Prizewinner Octavio Paz. "In the frescoes of the Ministry of Education numerous influences give Diego wings that carry him far away, and enable him to show his great gifts. These paintings are like a vast extended fan which, little by little, reveals the multi-faceted, unique artist: the portrait painter, at certain moments reminiscent of Ingres; the skilled student of the Quattrocento, who, if he sometimes approaches the severity of Duccio di Buoninsegna, at other times rediscovers - that is the right word - the colour-rich art of Benozzo Gozzoli and his seductive combination of physical, animal and human nature; the artist of volume and geometry, who was capable of applying the lesson.of Cezanne to the wall; the painter who extended Gauguin's vision - trees, leaves, water, flowers, bodies, fruit - and made it bloom again; and lastly the draughtsman, the master of the melodious line."

Towards the end of 1924, when Rivera was still busy with the design of the ground floor of the "Court of Fiestas" and General Plutarco Elfas Calles became the new president of Mexico after Alvaro Obregon's term of office had run, the artist received a commission for a new mural project at the National School of Agriculture (Escuela Nacional de Agricultura) at Chapingo.
Rivera at once began to decorate the entrance hall, main stairway and first-floor reception hall of the administration building with frescoes, demonstrating through the theme The Liberated Earth, with unambiguous educational intent, the revolutionary task of the agricultural college.

In 1926 he turned his attention to the chapel of the former convent and later hacienda at Chapingo. Built, like many other Christian churches in Mexico, above an Aztec temple-pyramid, it now served the School as an assembly hall. Rivera's frescoes, covering all the walls and ceilings of the chapel, and knitting the whole ensemble together, may be compared, for their effect of total unity, to Michelangelo's decoration of the Sistine Chapel or Giotto's Arena Chapel frescoes. The design was intended to give the new generation of agricultural planners and engineers inspiration and guidelines. The theme of the cycle, in the nave divided into four bays and a small area above which the organ gallery used to be situated, is on the left-hand side Social Revolution and the duty of agrarian reform which it creates, and on the right-hand side Natural Evolution, the beauty and fertility of the earth, the natural growth of which runs parallel to the equally natural changes brought about by the Revolution. The whole scheme is crowned, on the chapel's round-arched end wall, by the large female nude, which is surrounded by the four elements, of The Liberated Earth. Nature and society develop out of chaos and exploitation into a state of harmony between man and nature as well as between men. In an originally Jesuit chapel, using early images of the world and nature, religious pictorial motifs and socialist symbolism, the artist is preaching a revolutionary credo.

 


Song to the Earth (Social Revolution)

The Perpetual Renewal of the Rewolutionary Strugggle
1926-1927


 


Song to the Earth (Natural Revolution)

Germination
1926-1927


 


Song to the Earth (Natural Revolution)
The Abundant Earth
1926-1927



 


Song to the Earth (Natural Revolution)

Fuerzas Subterraneas
1926-1927


 


Song to the Earth (Natural Revolution)

The Blood of the Revolutionary Martyrs Fertilizing the Earth
1926-1927


 


Song to the Earth (Natural Revolution)

Maturation
1926-1927

 

 


Portrait of Tina Modotti
1926

While in The Liberated Earth Rivera portrayed his pregnant wife Guadalupe Marin, for other allegorical female figues Tina Modotti was his model. The relationship into which he entered with the American photographer during his work with her led to large-scale rows with Lupe Marm and a temporary parting from her; after the birth of his daughter Ruth in 1927 he finally broke off the relationship. However, contact with the mother of his daughters, whom he supported financially, was soon regularized, and the two women became close friends.
After completion of the Chapingo project, Rivera made a trip, in autumn 1927, to the Soviet Union to take part in the tenth anniversary celebrations of the October Revolution as a member of an official delegation of Mexican Communist Party functionaries and various workers' representatives. He had wanted to visit Russia since his years in Paris, and now he was to see the land of the Soviets with his own eyes. He hoped to learn from the state of artistic development there, and to have the opportunity of contributing to the country's revolutionary progress by painting a mural. After a short stay in Berlin, in the course of which he met German artists and intellectuals, he went on to spend nine months in Moscow. He gave lectures, was appointed a "Lecturer in Monumental Painting" at the School of Fine Arts, and maintained close contact with the newly founded Moscow artists' organization "October". The members of this group spoke for an official art that supported socialist ideals by following Russian folk tradition, rejecting both Socialist Realism and the abstract art of the Soviet avant-garde. In preparation for the design of a mural commissioned by Anatoly Lunacharsky, Commissar for Education and Art, Rivera filled a sketchbook with 45 watercolour drawings depicting the May Day Celebrations of 1928. These are the only artistic product of his visit to Russia, since the mural project for the Red Army Club came to nothing as a result of disagreement and intrigue; the drawings were used for certain parts of later murals. Rivera's deviant political and cultural views caused the Stalinist government to suggest that he should return to Mexico.


The Liberated Earth, 1926-1927, National School of Agriculture
 


The Liberated Earth
1926-1927
National School of Agriculture

 

After a number of fleeting affairs following the break-up with Lupe Mann, Rivera married Frida Kahlo on 21 August 1929; she was 21 years his junior. A prospective artist, she had called on him the previous year, while he was still working on the murals in the SEP building, to seek his opinion of her first attempts at painting, and with his encouragement had decided to devote herself full-time to painting. For both, art and politics were the prime purposes in life, paving the way for a marriage of perfect companionship after the first passionate love relationship. The degree to which each needed the other is shown by their reunion after a year's separation in 1940, which lasted up to Kahlo's death in 1954.


Diego Rivera
1929


Wedding photograph of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo
21 August 1929

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy