Diego Rivera: 1886-1957: Artist
Returned To Mexico, Became A Muralist
Upon returning to Mexico in 1921, Rivera was invited by the Minister of Education to participate in the new government's cultural plan to bring art to the people by decorating public spaces. Rivera began his first mural at National Preparatory School in Mexico City. Though not his best work, the resultant mural presaged Rivera's movement towards his own unique vision. An article in Los Angeles Magazine summed up this conversion. "Suddenly, in work done after his return to Mexico in 1921, he was Diego. The draftsmanship became bolder and more confident. His palette was brighter, full of reds and earth browns and the azure of the Mexican sky. And he found his essential subject matter in the handsome, blocky faces of the Indians of Mexico. It was as if he had spent more than a decade trying on other peoples clothes and speaking other people's languages. At last he had come home."
1922 was a busy year for Rivera. In June he married Guadalupe Marin, with whom he would have two daughters. He began to solidify his political beliefs, joining the Mexican Communist Party and co-founding the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors. He also began a massive undertaking at the Ministry of Education. Rivera was to paint nearly 17,000 square feet. With a team of other muralists, he vigorously began the project. Despite his Communist ideals Rivera became a tyrant during the project, subverting and even destroying the work of his colleagues. In 1924 political unrest caused Rivera's benefactor, the Minister of Education to resign. Though conservative groups called for the cessation of the mural projects, Rivera managed to obtain the new Minister's favor and he remained the only muralist employed by the government. The project was finally completed in 1928. It is a vividly colorful example of Rivera's genius, rife with his favorite imagery—pre-Hispanic civilization, Indian life, and peasants at work and at play.
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