W E L C O M E
This is the space for my portfolio of writing works from the 2017 Winter writing seminar Mural Art in Mexico and the U.S.
r i v e r a a s a m o d e r n a r t i s t
Diego Rivera is a painter renowned for his mural work in Mexico and the U.S. – huge frescoes that stretch sometimes hundreds of feet from beginning to end, full of bright colors and bold political statements.
The publicity and scale of these works no doubt contribute to their popularity and influence. So too does the political tension contained within them. But so often, Rivera is written off as a politically confused communist rather than an artist with depth and breadth to his work. His murals and large-scale works are wrapped up in contradictory political statements and stories that suggest a hypocritical revolutionary compromising his ideas for Capitalist money.
However, a consideration of Rivera’s mural work alone leaves out crucial parts of the story. It would be silly to demand that the public fully understand Diego’s life, ideas, and full body of work. Nonetheless, an introduction to his other compositions provides a much-needed context for making sense of his later work. Rivera began as an easel painter, and from a very young age his paintings showed a modernist tilt which was further influenced by his time in Europe in the early 20th century. The cubist paintings he made while in Spain and Europe are perhaps the most clear examples of his modernism. However, this aspect of his work is present throughout most of his pieces.
While Rivera was a Mexican painter, he was also a modern artist in the early 1900s, and this part of his identity sheds a great deal of light on his later works. In particular, it can reveal the impetus for elements of both his ideology and his aesthetic style that influenced his work’s meaning and place in culture. Furthermore, a more wholistic study of his life can show that while Rivera was a revolutionary, he was not a political figure but an artist. With this understanding, we can come to appreciate his statements rather than scouring them for a clear political message.