The Life and Times of Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera is one of, if not the most, famous artist to ever come out of South America. His influence can be seen not only to his own country, but also all over the world. Rivera was born on December 13, 1886, the date of one of many Mexican religious festivals, in Guanajuato. He was the first in a set of twins. His twin brother’s name was José Carlos and he died at the age of one and a half. As a matter of fact, his whole name was actually Diego Mariade la Concepcion Juan Nepolmuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodriguez. Fortunately, in later years Rivera did not have to use all of his names when he signed his artwork. On his early pieces he used the name Diego Mariade Rivera to distinguish himself from his father, though shortened it to simply Diego Rivera later on.
From a very early age, Rivera showed signs of tremendous artistic talent. In 1889, well before his third birthday, he drew a surprisingly accurate picture of a train, complete with a steam engine and a trainman\'s car. This piece of art hangs in a Mexican museum to this day. As a child, he would decorate everything from the walls to the furniture in his house with his art. As to not disturb his son’s incredible talent, but also save his home, Rivera’s father set up a special room in the house in which all of the walls were covered with blackboards. This way his son could draw all he wanted and then erase it when he pleased.
In addition to his artistic abilities, Rivera gained a talent in making people angry. From childhood until the end of his life he seemed to take great pleasure in the anger of others. Despite this, Rivera was an excellent student. In 1896, he achieved the highest score on the year-end exams. Later, in 1898, he graduated with honors from elementary school, just four years after entering. The only part of the curriculum that Rivera lacked in was his training in Christian religious matters. He constantly challenged his priest’s teachings, which suggested that he continue his religious learning at home. Even before finishing elementary school, Rivera began attending night classes at the San Carlos School of Fine Arts. He was the youngest student at the academy, yet had no trouble competing with everyone else. His hard work earned him a scholarship that enabled him to take the school’s regular day courses.
At the age of sixteen, Rivera’s student days were over. By that time he was already over six feet tall and weighed just under three hundred pounds. In 1907, at the age of twenty, Rivera traveled to Spain. To quench his desire for knowledge, Rivera spent a lot of his time reading. Among those he read was Karl Marx, whose books, written in the 1800’s, helped to spur Rivera’s sympathy for the Communist movement. With these thoughts of social reform beginning to formulate inside his head, Rivera decided to visit Paris in 1909. At the time he probably thought he was only visiting Paris. Though it immediately became his base of operations. Except for a few brief trips back to Mexico and visits to several European cities, Rivera worked and lived in Paris for the next ten year of his life.
In 1911, Rivera began to experiment with a new kind of art that was sweeping Paris. By 1913, he was one of the leaders of the new artistic movements called cubism. Most of the previous forms of artwork before cubism expressed the world in a rather realistic way. The subjects of the piece of artwork, whether it was a person, an animal, or a bowl of fruit, were generally quite easy to recognize. Led by artists Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Diego Rivera and a number of other painters who worked in Paris in the early years of the twentieth century challenged all of that. Cubist painting often depicted common objects in exaggerated geometric form. For example, a human face might take the form of a triangle or a cone. This head might also be separated from the body, placed away from the shoulders. In addition, the head possibly could be shown, as