Diego Rivera is considered the father of Mexican
mural art as well as modern political art. He
reinterpreted Mexican history from a revolutionary
and nationalistic point of view. Not only did
he express powerful ideas in his murals, but
he also applied the tools he learned with modernist
techniques. Diego Rivera’s murals express
his personal ideals by unifying art with politics.
Diego Rivera’s murals are far too numerous
to mention here. However, I have selected three
that I consider important works from his fruitful
career and that have captured the eye of the
1. Labors of the Mexican People
From 1923 to 1928 Rivera painted a series of
murals for the Ministry of Education in Mexico.
The mural project totaled 117 fresco paintings
which took Rivera over four years to finish.
Having much more liberty than he had when painting
"The Creation", (his first Government
commissioned mural), Rivera depicted the social
struggles of the urban workers against the upper
classes. The labor murals showed the various
types and aspects of physical labor in the following
areas-- agricultural, industrial, and artisanal.
Rivera painted what he felt were accurate portrayals
of the social conditions of the Mexican laborer.
2. Mural of the National Palace in Mexico
This mural was commissioned in 1929 during
the presidency of Emilio Gil. It represents
the history of Mexico from the fall of Teotihuacan,
(900 A.D.) to the beginning of the presidency
of Lazaro Cardenas in 1935. The theme symbolizes
the indigenous origins and the revolutionary
traditions of Mexico. It is divided into three
sections: Prehispanic Mexico (depiction
of indigenous culture before Spanish arrival), From the Conquest to the Present (depiction
of the conquest of 1521), and Mexico of Today
and of the Future (depiction of Mexico’s
fight for independence in 1810-21).
3. Man at the Crossroads-Rockefeller Center
in New York City
In 1933, Rivera was commissioned to paint a
mural at the Rockefeller Center in New York
City. The mural, titled Man at the Crossroads
Looking with Uncertainty but with Hope and High
Vision to the Choosing of a Course Leading to
a New and Better Future, is divided into
two sections: the left section is the elitist
society enjoying life to the maximum while drinking,
partying and playing cards. Beside them is a
group protesting and carrying banners stating
"We Want Work, Not Charity" while
mounted police club them. The right section
is Rivera's vision of peace - no hunger, no
disorder, no violence or war,all of which have
been eradicated by socialism. The most controversial
aspect of Diego Rivera’s mural was the
image of Lenin with the "figures of a soldier,
a black farmer, and a white worker" joining
hands as if in power. This mural caused a major
political uproar and the project was suspended
and in the end, the mural was destroyed in 1935.
Continue to Diego Rivera Murals Reunited.
The Zapotec Civilization
Disembarkation of the
Spanish at Veracruz