Thursday, December 8, 2011

Diego Rivera, communist and Mexican icon, honored with Google Doodle

Diego Rivera, communist and Mexican icon, honored with Google Doodle

Google today honors Mexican mural painter Diego Rivera, one of the great artists of the early 20th century. The search engine has replaced its logo with a normal industrial landscape in honor of what would have been the 125th anniversary of the artist. So who was Rivera? What made her special art?

Rivera was raised by a middle class family in Mexico. Beginning at the age of 10, he studied at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City, then continued his studies in Europe.

Early in his career, he has learned to apply mathematical principles to his art. This led to a long period of production Rivera Cubist paintings. The style involved twisting the normal reality - while most of the paintings are inherently 2-D, Cubism mixes 3-D elements. Viewers get to see more sides of the same object, even if they are looking at a flat canvas. The result often looks like looking into a broken mirror. While Rivera spent two decades in this style of painting, many people forget this period of his life and remember him for what came next.

Around 1920, he began to move away from Cubism to find inspiration in the Russian Revolution. His work turned to realism. He leaned heavily on politics, and his work always leads the discussion on how public art helps to shape the social and economic crisis.

For example, take a look at his mural "Frozen Assets", painted in 1931 and 1932. The painting is divided into three sections. The top shows the familiar New York City Skyline, full of construction, innovation and prosperity. The middle section shows dozens or even hundreds of homeless people huddled in dormitories tight. On the bottom is a inside a banking hall.

"In Frozen Assets, Rivera coupled his appreciation for New York, with distinctive vertical architecture a powerful critique of economic inequality in the city," the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Picture this scene in the 1930s. Now imagine the power "To occupy Wall Street" of the movement. Sound familiar?

In considering the current exhibition at MOMA Rivera, the New York Times called the artist "one of the great artists of his time."

He also co-starred with his famous wife, the artist Frida Kahlo. Google has created a doodle to celebrate Kahlo in 2010. In 2002, Salma Hayek has starred in a film about Kahlo's life. The film, called "Frida," included Alfred Molina as Rivera.

If you are not familiar with Rivera's work, or need a discount, see the video below, which runs through the slides of his works.