Wednesday, September 7, 2011


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Parlor Figure Name: Diego Rivera

Birth-Death: December 8 1886 - November 24 1957 (I)

Residence (city, state, or region): Guanajuato, Mexico (I)

Occupation: Artist, political activist

What’s this person best known for? His paintings; large murals.

Race/Ethnicity/Religion (if important): Hispanic.

Politics: Marxist (II)

Beliefs about relation between art and politics (if applicable): “All art is propaganda, the only difference is the kind of propaganda.” Diego Rivera. (II)

Major Activities in the 1930s: His large mural paintings in San Francisco, New York and Detroit. Mostly “Detroit Industry” and “Man At The Crossroads.” (II)

Major Works (include dates and place of publication where applicable): “Man At The Crossroads” 1933 in the Rockefeller Center. “Detroit Industry” 1932 on the wall of the Detroit Art Institute.  (II)

Places where figure’s work often appears (magazines, radio, nightclubs, galleries): Public places. Rivera thought of himself as a very public, transparent artist. He wanted the world to see his creation; not only a small group of the whole.

Organizations s/he belongs to, causes s/he supports: Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers; painters and sculptors. The Mexican Communist Party. (I)

Best sound bites by or about this figure, including source (if this person is a writer, you must include a quote by him or her): quote above in section about art and politics.

Was this person a popular or critical success? Both, depending on where one stands politically. 

Any Gossip? None.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Rivera’s “Man At The Crossroads” was destroyed in the Rockefeller Center because of its Pro Lenin theme. He later repainted it in the Museo De Bellas Artes in Mexico. (I)

Titles of the 1-3 “texts” (writing, photos, songs, etc.) by this person you’ll discuss in your paper (include date and place of publication, if applicable): (I) (II)

1. Man At The Crossroads. RCA Building 1933

2. Detroit Industry. Detroit Art Institute. 1932

3. In The Arsenal.

What primary research have you done?
         I have used the New York Times Historical database online. I have also ordered a documentary on Rivera’s political life called Rivera In America

Major influences on this person’s work (what’s on the bookshelf):
         Any reading on the Red Army (soviet leanings). Anything on cubism or impressionistic art forms. All pro communist readings as well. (I) He was always hugely inspired by Cezanne and Trotsky. (I).

Connections with other parlor figures:

a.  friends, people who work together, people in the same circle: Granville Hicks

b.  political or artistic allies: Granville Hicks

c.  political or artistic opponents: Any pro government person, or anyone anti communism such as William Carlos Williams. Rivera is slightly out of the circle because he is not from the USA.

d.  other connections: n/a

I: Multiple. "Diego Rivera." Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia. 9 Sept. 2011. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <>.

II: Retracing Diego Rivera's American Odyssey: A documentary beams fresh light onto the muralist's disputed fresco for the R.C.A. Building. Rivera's Odyssey

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