Diego Rivera was an artist famous for his work during the early 20th century. He was born in Mexico, lived in Europe for close to 20 years, then returned to Mexico. His long career as an artist boiled down to a few key influences in his artistic style: his heritage, the Modern art movement in Paris and his later career as a muralist, which led to an art style known as Mexicanidad.
Cubism in Paris
Rivera moved to Europe in 1907, where he studied art in Spain and moved to Paris. Picasso was a contemporary of Rivera's, and he was strongly affected by Picasso's cubist period while living in Paris, creating works like "Adoration of the Virgin." In 1913 and 1914 Rivera exhibited his cubism-inspired work, and he met Picasso and Juan Gris in the Societe des Artistes Independents.
Muralism in the Americas
In 1921, Rivera returned to Mexico. He was commissioned by the president of Mexico, Jose Vasconcelos, to create murals around the country on government buildings. Murals like "The Great City of Tenochtitlan" romanticised Mexican history and were meant to educate the population.
Rivera's art was strongly influenced by pride of his heritage. Paintings like "The Tortilla Maker," depicting a woman making tortillas in the same way they've been created throughout Mexican history, represent this appreciation for his heritage.
A Style Influenced by Friends and Lovers
While painting in Mexico, Rivera teamed up with artist friends who reflected a similar style to his own: Jose Orozco and David Siquieros in particular. They painted murals together, focusing on Mexican heritage and using a strong style that often flattened three-dimensional elements into two dimensions, and presenting objects as broader and sturdier than they were in reality.
Rivera married Frida Kahlo in 1929, who has become a household name in contemporary Mexican art. She was influenced by Rivera's simple-looking style, and her own work reflected her passion for her heritage, her psychological state and her memories.
All of the aforementioned influences came together for Rivera, and he coined this style of art Mexicanidad, of which he is known to be the founder. Mexicanidad uses Mexican culture and heritage, uses broad, sturdy imagery and can appear in mural form. Orozco, Siquieros and Kahlo all referred to themselves as Mexicanidad artists, the movement that Rivera created.
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