DIEGO RIVERA - FARMER CARRYING A TURKEY, 1944 oil on table, tempera on masonite 36 × 28 cm - Collection of Museo de Arte del Estado de Veracruz
Diego Rivera was born on December 8 1886 in Guanajuato.
In 1892, he moves with his family to Mexico City where he enters the Antigua Academia de San Carlos. Here, he is awarded with a number of prices, among which a scholarship to travel to Europe.
In 1909, Diego moves to Paris and starts a relationship with Russian painter Angelina Belof. The following year the couple looses a child. In Paris, Rivera connects with the wide and international community of artists and intellectuals: in 1911, he participates in the Autumn Salon and meets Amedeo Modigliani, Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso. Absorbed by such bohemian environment, Rivera focuses on his artistic research and participates in the controversies and scandals of a period that was characterized by both philosophical and political disputes.
Rivera initially joins the Cubist Movement, but in 1916, he exhibits a series of works inspired to Mexican Prehispanic art at the Modern Gallery in New York, proving the originality of his research. These are intense times; He has an affair with artist Marievna Vorobieva, who gives birth to a daughter whom the artist will never officially recognize. In 1922, he returns to Mexico where he starts to work at his famous murals, for a number of public buildings.
Between 1930 and 1934 he travels to San Francisco, New York and Detroit where, due to his political beliefs, he alternates successes and controversies. As exemplified by the famous mural: “El Hombre in Cruce de Caminos” at the Rockfeller Center in New York that was first suspended and later destroyed for the presence of Lenin’s portrait within the crowd. Soon, Rivera returns to Mexico and reproduces the same mural at the Palácio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Other masterpieces can be found at the Palácio Nacional and at the Anfiteatro Bolivar in Mexico City.
In 1929, the artist marries Frida Kahlo with whom he will have a long and troubled relationship until her death in July 1954.
Together Frida and Diego intensify their political and cultural activism. A year after her death, the artist remarries for the fourth time with Emma Hurtado. During the last period of his life Rivera devoted himself to the foundation of the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Anahuacalli Museum: a display of Prehispanic artworks from his personal collection.
He dies of a cancer on November 24 1957 in his home of San Ángel Inn and is buried in the Rotonda de Las Personas Ilustres, at the Panteón Civil de Dolores in Mexico City.