Diego Rivera Influences
Diego Rivera continues to be one of Mexico’s
favorite artists and historical figures. He is perhaps
best known for creating murals in fresco and starting
the Mexican Mural Renaissance.
Who and what were the Diego Rivera influences during
his career? Rivera’s ties to the major artists
of the Cubist and Impressionist movement affected his
style, while his love for his country and his political
convictions guided his brush in his creation of masterpieces.
Diego Rivera's full biography here.
After his art school education in Mexico, Rivera was
urged to move to Europe and continue to develop his
talent and abilities. He studied in Paris, France, where
he held a front-row seat to the emergence of the Cubist
Rivera studied with Ilya Ehrenburg, Chaim Soutine,
Max Jacob, Amadeo Modigliani and his wife Jeanne Hébuterne.
This close circle of artist-friends shaped and influenced
his work from 1907 to 1914, which similarities are especially
apparent in Rivera’s pieces of that period.
Shortly thereafter, Rivera developed a deep admiration
for Cubist artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
His style changed as he adopted the common characteristics
of the Cubist movement such as depth of field and realistic
portrayal of light.
Some would say that master Post-Impressionist artist
Paul Cezanne was the strongest of the Diego Rivera influences.
From 1917 onward, Rivera became enthralled with the
vibrant colors, simple shapes, and thick paint application
to real-life subjects that characterized Post-Impressionism.
In 1920, Rivera returned to his country of Mexico.
But before returning home, he traveled through Italy
and studied the work of many Renaissance fresco masters,
such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Viewing their accomplishments
first-hand had a significant impact on Rivera. It led
him to combine his two main passions: the Post-Impressionistic
use of simple shapes and vibrant colors to represent
realist subjects, and the application of paint to walls
to create textured frescoes. Thus, the Mexican Mural
Renaissance was born.
In an effort to give his work a genuine Mexican flavor,
Rivera studied Aztec painting and portraiture, another
one of the Diego Rivera influences. While viewing any
one of his hundreds of murals, you will note a specific
and unmistakable Aztec feel in the geometric shapes
and use of colors. Perhaps the most significant impact
the Aztecs had on Rivera was the idea that a mural should
tell a story rather than simply present an image.
One of the most important Diego Rivera influences was
not art per say, but rather politics. In 1922, Rivera
joined the Mexican Communist Party and became a hardcore
political activist. Consequently, the subject material
of his artistic work, during this period, tends to reflect
working-class scenes and society as a whole. He was
intent on producing paintings that sent political messages
to the public.
After 1924, Rivera went to Moscow in order to connect
with the Communist Party. Soon after, he was accused
of plotting against the party and was evicted from the
Soviet Union. During this emotional period in his life,
he married famous artist Frida Kahlo and soon adopted
much of her style. Eventually, Rivera became less political
and more casual. His late murals feature distorted human
shapes, geometrical patterns, and a slight touch of
The Whole of Rivera’s Work
Diego Rivera influences are varied and numerous, proving
the extent of his talent and abilities to alter his
style. From Picasso and Cezanne to Da Vinci, and from
the Aztecs to politics, and then to Kahlo, the artist’s
influences were combined in perfect harmony to create
the unique blend that is the Diego Rivera mural. Mexico
literally has hundreds of walls displaying his intricate
and vibrant work, and his talents helped shape a Mexican
art movement that was lacking in internationally significant
figures. Like all great artists, Rivera found a unique
way to combine his visual and intellectual passions
in order to create a new vision.
This article was written by Betty Botis
Betty Botis is an avid art collector and fan
of all Diego Rivera's art. She is also a freelance writer
for Diego Rivera