Diego Rivera was born in 1886, in Mexico; when his career began, the main focal point behind his works was the depict the lives of Mexico and its people. In 1921, working with the government, he began work on a series of murals, that were located in public buildings. Some of his work was quite controversial; in fact, the Man at the Crossroads, which went up in NYC, was destroyed by the Rockefeller Family. He is today known as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, and began working and drawing at the age of 10. He went to the San Carlos Academy of Fine Art in Mexico City, and furthered his education in Europe in 1907; while in Europe, he became friends with several famous artists, including Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Piet Mondrian.
Studying in Paris meant Rivera was exposed to different painting styles and movements. Initially his work was heavily influenced by Cubism. Only a few years later his style changed. Inspired by the work of Paul Cezanne he began to make Post-Impressionist paintings using simple shapes and vivid colors. His work began to attract more attention and some was exhibited.
Although Diego Rivera had success as a cubist painter in Europe, the work he would do in his career greatly changed. The Mexican Revolution in 1914/15 strongly influenced him, as did the Russian Revolution in 1917. During a trip to Italy, he took an interest in murals, and depicting the struggles of the people he grew up around. Upon returning to Mexico to continue his work, in 1922 he received government funding, to work on public buildings. In 1929, he married another artist, Frida Kahlo, by which time he had several children from previous relationships. In this relationship, he and fellow artist took an interest in Marxism and radical politics in genera.
During the 1930s and 40s, Diego Rivera did quite a bit of work in the US, painting murals. Much of his work was publicly debated due to the radical figures, and the radical political approach which he took in depicting these figures. Conflicts in capitalist and socialist views were widely debated, and these were some of the main focal points which he used in the works he created. In 1934, when his work was stopped by the Rockefeller Family, they received quite a bit of backlash; due to their respect and openness to all art forms, they were viewed as hypocrites for requiring the work of Diego Rivera to be taken down, simply because they did not like the fact that he used a Russian leader in one of the works he depicted. The Man at the Crossroads, which was eventually destroyed by the family, was a piece which many enjoyed, and was Rivera's way of showing the disagreement and turmoil, between the political realms.
During the 1930s, Diego Rivera did not have any work in progress working on murals, so he dedicated his time to creating personal pieces and paintings. In the 1940s, he returned to doing work on murals, for the Golden Gate Exposition which was held in San Francisco. From 1945 to 1951 he spent quite a bit of time, and lived in Mexico City; "From the pre-Hispanic civilization to the Conquest" was the work he created during this time frame, and the last mural which he completed was called the "Popular History of Mexico".
Due to the controversial nature of this, as well as the other works which Diego Rivera created during this illustrious career, he became known as one of the leading artists in the 20th century. Not only in the US, where much of his work was debated, and even destroyed, but around the world. Since he took a worldly view on art, and depicted controversial scenes which depicted different forms of politics, which were not established around the world, many of his art pieces were quite unique, and were distinct in nature from the work which other muralists had done. And, the fact that he shared an interest in certain political views, which were not widely accepted around the world, also made for a unique twist on the art he created, and a distinct style with the creation and work that he did while creating the murals which he painted during the course of his career.
In 1954, Diego Rivera lost his wife, and remarried Emma Hurtado one year later, who was his art dealer. At this point in his life, he was in declining health, and had to travel abroad to be treated for a form of cancer which he was fighting with, but the doctors were not able to find a solution or cure for him. In 1957, Diego Rivera died in his home, Mexico City, from heart failure, and hear complications, which were in part connected to the illness that he was suffering from.
After his death, Diego Rivera became one of the most popular artists, and many wanted to see the works he created during his career; in fact, to this day, he is still one of the most well known and renowned muralists, for the distinct style in which he created his pieces, the unique approach he took to public building works, and the radical approaches which he took, regardless of the art form that he was creating for the public to view. The childhood home which Diego Rivera lived in, in Mexico City, has even been turned into a museum, to showcase where he got some of his influences from, and it also depicts some of the more famous pieces that he is known for.
The relationship which he had with his first wife, was one that brought about plenty of speculation, not only for the marriage, and difference in age, but also for their shared views in politics, and the radical art forms which they created during their careers. There were even movies that were made about Diego Rivera and Frida, to depict their marriage, their life, and the work which they made, and murals which they created, driving controversy around their work.
Whether or not you agree with his political stand points, or the relationships he engaged in during his lifetime, the creative manner and approach, and the disregard for what people thought about his art, makes Diego Rivera one of the most famous, and most renowned artists which existed during this time period.
Rivera's philosophy of art and life correspond to no specific dogma. He had an extraordinarily well developed intuitive sense that shaped his understanding of the world and his humanistic understanding of the role of the artist and the role of art in society. His ability to masterfully present universal images and ideas in his art continues to captivate the viewers today.