Diego Rivera

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Diego Rivera (1886 – 1957) var en känd Mexikansk konstnär unt kommunist från en rik familj. Han främsta verk är de stora färglada väggmålningar som pryder viktiga byggnader i Mexiko, USA och Ryssland. Medlem i Mexikanska kommunistpartiet vilket han uteslöts ur. Dessutom polade och bodde han tillsammans med ärkesvinet Leo Trotsky. Hade inflytande och mäktiga vänner i Mexikanska staten. Apolget (om ändock bångstyrig sådan) för de röda borgarna.

Bedragen av Trotsky

Sedan 1938 bodde Trotsky i huset vid Calle de Viena, som ägdes Frida Kahlo, hustru till målaren Diego Rivera. Rivera hade inflytande hos Mexicos president vid den här tiden, Cardenas, och hade förmått denne att erbjuda Trotsky exil i Mexico. I början var vänskapen och enigheten stor: Trotsky och Natalja bodde med Frida och Diego i de senares Villa Azul vid Calle de Londres i Coyocán. Tidigare hade Kahlo och Rivera delat huset med David Alfaro Siqueiros, liksom Rivera en berömd muralmålare och fanatisk kommunist, medgrundare av det kommunistiska partiet i Mexico. Men nu tog de emot paret Trotsky.

Trotsky och Kahlo tog det inte så allvarligt med den äktenskapliga troheten. Frida började en affär med Trotsky. Dock kan man kan föreställa sig Rivieras svartsjukeutbrott när han upptäckte detta. Trotskys måste flytta, men inte längre än ett par kvarter bort till det hus där Frida växt upp och som hon nu ägde.

Diego Rivera was born December 8, 1886, in Guanajuato in Mexico, to Diego and Maria Barrientos Rivera. Being a family of rather modest means, they lived in Guanajuato until 1892, when they moved to Mexico City. At the age of ten Diego Rivera was doing well in school, and, passionately fond of drawing from an early age, started taking evening painting classes at the San Carlos Academy. In 1898 he enrolled there as a full time student, and in 1906, at the annual show, he exhibited for the first time, with 26 works. Thus at age twenty Diego Rivera was established as a painter.

Diego's father was a municipal councellor in Guanajuato, and was a liberal and anticlerical man. Diego's two aunts, who lived with the family, were rather religious. Diego was interested in military issues, and he was especially fascinated by the Russian army and the conflict it was facing; the Tsar and the Orthodox Church versus Marxist Revolutionaries.

In 1907 Diego got a travel grant, and went to Spain. There he travelled around, and he also went to France, Belgium, and England. In Brussels in 1909 he met Angelina Belhoff, a slender, blond young Russian painter, a kind, sensitive, almost unbelievably decent person, and she became Diego's partner for the next twelve years. They travelled together, mostly in Europe, and spent much time in Paris, where Diego Rivera participated in several exhibitions. During this time they had many friends, and several of these were Russians. The First World War broke out in Europe, and in Mexico the revolutionary folk hero Emiliano Zapata promoted returning the land to the people. It was in these years Diego Rivera became a revolutionary himself, and felt the call of his country. His friend, David Sternberg, the Soviet People's Commissar of Fine Arts had invited him to Russia, and Diego was tempted to go, but in 1921 he returned to Mexico instead.

In addition to his painting activities, which by now was focused increasingly on murals, Diego Rivera participated in the founding of the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors in the autumn of 1922, and later that year he joined the Mexican Communist Party. In the years that followed, Diego was engaged by The (Soviet) Revolution, as his signature on the mural The Agitator illustrates:

In the autumn of 1927 Diego took a trip to the Soviet Union, as a member of an official delegation of Mexican Communist Party functionaries and various workers representatives, to take part in the tenth anniversary celebrations of the October Revolution. Diego's interest in the Workers Movement clearly show in the mural below, which shows Frida Kahlo, Diego's third wife and longtime (1929 to 1954) partner, handing out guns to workers who have decided to fight:

Frida Kahlo was Diego's great admirer, and she shared Diego's revolutionary feelings, as the picture below illustrates:

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo demonstating in 1936.

In 1933 Diego started work on a mural, Man at the Crossroads, in Radio City in the Rockefeller Center in New York. However, a conflict arose over a portrait of Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet Union, and the mural was chipped off the wall and destroyed February 9, 1934. The picture below was shot before the mural was broken into into pieces:

Diego was determined to complete the mural, but in a different place, and after doing several murals at the New Workers School, including the Workers of the World Unite panel, he left the US. Then he did a new version of the Crossroads mural, called Man, Controller of the Universe, in Mexico City. Below is a detail:

Man, Controller of the Universe, detail of mural, 1934.

To the right of Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, we spot Leon Trotsky, another principal leader of the Russian Revolution. In his later years, Leon moved to Mexico, where he was a close friend of Diego. In 1938 the picture below was taken:

Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky, and Andre Breton, 1938.

Diego Rivera remained loyal to the revolutionary cause all his life, and below we see him, speaking to the Mexican Communist Party, late in his life.

Diego Rivera making a speech to the Mexican Communist Party, 1956.

We speculate that Diego's view of himself is portrayed to some extent in his murals, and in the mural Alameda Park, painted in 1948, Diego himself makes an appearance. We see a Diego who is not so grown up and serious, but rather youthful and happy, with many friends, many of them beautiful ladies, having a party, with death not so far away...