Diego Rivera, Zapotec Indian Girl with Sheep

framed

Circa 1930
Oil pastel on wove paper
Unframed: 19 x 14 in.
Handmade Mexican frame with matting: approximately 25 x 20 in.
Signed on reverse.

One of Mexico’s most renowned painters, Diego Rivera (1886-1957) is revered for his distinguished controversial style, which depicts and critiques historical, political, and social issues of the twentieth century. He first trained at the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City, under such instructors as Andrés Ríos Félix Para (1845–1919) and José María Velasco (1840–1912). Para introduced him to distinctively Mexican artists, while Velasco taught him how to paint three-dimensionally. Rivera also looked to the works of José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913), who engraved scenes of daily Mexican life on metal.

This training was pivotal to his artistic development, but he was expelled in 1902 for leading a demonstration against Porfirio Díaz, the re-elected Mexican president who harassed, imprisoned, and even killed those who disagreed with his policies. Rivera then traveled around Mexico painting and drawing, but truly longed to study in Europe. Finally, in 1907, governor Teodora A. Dehesa, who often backed artists, heard about Rivera’s work and agreed to sponsor his studies in Europe.

Rivera began working in the studio of Eduardo Chicarro in Madrid, and then relocated to Paris, a pivotal move for his career. In France, he was strongly influenced by the Impressionists, namely Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and later imitated such Post-Impressionists as Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin, Henri Matisse, Georges Seurat, and Raoul Dufy. Europe inspired him to experiment more with his style and technique, leading to a distinctly cubist series of works containing Mexican themes produced between 1913 and 1917. He also learned fresco and mural painting in Italy before returning to Mexico in 1921.

Upon Rivera’s return, he began painting his large murals which were to become some of his most celebrated works. His first, ‘The Creation’ (1922) in the University of Mexico’s Bolivar Amphitheater, became the first important mural of the twentieth century. This piece demonstrated his remarkable eye for color and composition.

The frescoes Rivera created between 1923 and 1926 have also been deemed masterpieces. Those in the Auditorium of the National School of Agriculture in Chapingo (1927) are particularly noteworthy, as they powerfully depict themes of human biological and social development, while those in the Palace of Cortés in Cuernavaca (1929-1930) illustrate the legendary battle against the Spanish conquerors.

Rivera is also known for his marriage to artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), who shared his radical views and art forms. Together, they traveled to the United States between 1930 and 1933. There, he encountered more controversy, as he was a member of the Mexican Communist Party and several of his works depicted his strong political beliefs. He continued to travel between the United States and Mexico, painting culturally, socially, and politically conscious murals and frescoes for such diverse institutions as the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City (1934), a junior college in San Francisco (1940), and the National Institute of Cardiology in Mexico City (1944).

In 1951, Rivera was honored by the Palace of Fine Arts with a large exhibition demonstrating fifty years of his art. His final pieces were mosaics for the Insurgents’ Theater and the National University’s stadium, as well as a fresco in the Social Security Hospital No. 1. He died in Mexico City on November 25, 1957, due to complications from cancer and heart failure.

Price available upon request.