Jose Diego Maria Rivera was born in 1886. He attended schools in Mexico City; San Carlos National Academy of Fine Arts, Mexico City, 1898-1905; also studied in Spain 1907-1908; lived in Paris 1911-1921;Director, Academy of San Carlos, 1929-1930; painter and muralist in Mexico and the United States.

Diego Rivera was one of the leaders of the Mexican mural renaissance of the 1920’s and 1930’s. In his life and work he celebrated indigenous Mexican culture and promoted social change through revolution. He has had an enormous popular following on an international scale from the 1930’s to the present. Rivera’s work is officially designated a national treasure of Mexico.

Until he developed a distinctive mural style in 1923, Rivera’s work reflected both the European academic tradition and the concerns of the avant-garde. The Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City, where Rivera received his early training, relied on a regimen that was heavily influenced by 19th century French academic practice. The academy emphasized the development of technical expertise as well as study from nature and scientific investigations of such things as proportion and perspective. During his ten year sojourn in Spain and Paris, Rivera experimented with historical styles from El Greco to Cezanne and became part of the Cubist circle (1913-1918).

Rivera’s life was filled with contradictions: a pioneer of Cubism who promoted art for art’s sake, he became one of the leaders of the Mexican Mural Renaissance; a political activist, he received mural commissions from the United States corporate establishment; a champion of the worker, he had a deep fascination with the form and function of machines; a greater revolutionary artist, he also painted society portraits. He had an extraordinarily well-developed intuitive sense that shaped his understanding of the world and his humanistic understanding of the role of the artist and the role of art in society. His ability to represent universal images and ideas in his art continues to captivate the viewer today.


  • National Museum of Art
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Palace of Fine Arts
  • Carrillo Gil Museum
  • Rivera Studio Museum

Books by Rivera/publications:

  • Abraham Angel, Mexico City 1924
  • Genius of America, New York 1931
  • Portrait of American, with Bertram D. Wolfe, New York 1934
  • His Life and Times, Bertram D. Wolfe, New York and London 1939
  • Rivera: The Shaping of an Artist 1889-1921, Florence Arquin, Oklahoma, 1974

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