RIVERA Diego
Mexican painter, born in 1886 in Guanajuato. After taking courses at the School of Fine Arts in Mexico City, Rivera freed himself of Spanish academicism (which no longer was related to Velasquez or Goya and was still strong in Mexico) by living in Paris and becoming one of the Montparnasse painters who have been grouped under the name of School of Paris. A friend of Modigliani, recognized by Guillaume Apollinaire, Rivera adopted, contrary to most of the painters of the period, an attitude of reserve, almost that of an observer. He followed attentively, but without participating in it, the evolution of the painters of the BateauLavoir -- Picasso, Braque and Juan Gris. However, he benefited from their research. But he clearly did not feel at ease in Parisian circles. He returned to Mexico and set out to discover his country. Profoundly influenced by the ancient art of the Mayas and Aztecs, he was also moved by the revolutionary spirit that was still strong throughout Mexico. These two appeals were so powerful that his formerly reserved personality underwent a real metamorphosis. He rejected the influences that he had accepted only with the tip of his brush during his stay in Paris, and succeeded in becoming a revolutionary painter by adopting the traditions of a remote past. He waged an active campaign in Mexico City which led to the creation of a purely Mexican school of painting. With the assistance of the authorities, who gave him important commissions and supported his efforts, he worked out vast frescoes for public buildings, inspired by the political and social history of Mexico, particularly the history of popular uprisings. The attempt was decisive both for himself and for other Mexican painters. For the impulse had been given and the Mexican school created. From then on every fresco was a manifesto and a challenge. Rivera's art was explosive, and in turn caused a series of explosions. Can one maintain that this painting, which accepted European methods, techniques and procedures, was actually a modern expression of the prodigious art of the ancestors whose tradition it claimed to continue? Perhaps not. What is more evident is that, thanks to Rivera, Mexican art has proved one of the most dynamic movements in the painting of our time. One of the aspects of Rivera's art that should not be underestimated remains to be mentioned: what may be called its will to be a folk image. The colours as well as subjects of the frescoes are popular in intent. Rivera desires to meet the needs and strivings of the masses and does not care much for the élite. Certainly he prefers to address himself to the greatest number, but nevertheless he takes care to create a style.
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