Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gladys

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Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gladys

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:04 am

by Diego Rivera




"I know now that he who hopes to be universal in his art must plant in his own soil. Great art is like a tree which grows in a particular place and has a trunk, leaves, blossoms, boughs, fruit, and roots of its own. The more native art is, the more it belongs to the entire world, because taste is rooted in nature. When art is true, it is one with nature. This is the secret of primitive art and also of the art of the masters -- Michelangelo, Cezanne, Seurat, and Renoir. The secret of my best work is that it is Mexican." -- Diego Rivera

Table of Contents

• Foreward by Gladys March
• Geographical, Genealogical
• Tale of a Goat and a Mouse
• The Three Old Gentlemen Welcome the New Iconoclast
• My Three Ambitions
• I Begin the Draw
• We Move to Mexico City
• Schools
• My First Experience of Love
• The Beginning and End of a Military Career
• At the San Carlos School of Fine Arts
• Three Early Masters
• Posada
• Pre-Conquest Art
• An Experiment in Cannibalism
• My First Grant
• Murillo Atl
• Passage of Anger
• My Spanish Friends
• Desolate Landscapes
• Checkbooks in My Fingers
• Art Student in Paris
• Private Property
• No More Cezannes
• The Sun Worshippers of Bruges
• Beggars in Top Hats
• A Qualified Success
• Where I Was in 1910
• Homecoming!
• A Witchcraft Cure
• Revolutionary With a Paintbox
• A Plot to Kill Diaz
• Dehesa
• Sea Duty
• Reunion with Angeline
• Picasso
• War
• Your Painting is Like the Others!
• Marievna
• An End and a Beginning
• In Italy
• I Am Reborn: 1921
• Lupe
• An Apparition of Frida
• The Mexican Renaissance
• The Ministry of Education and Chapingo
• Hitler
• Stalin
• Moscow Sketches
• An Inspiration
• H.P.
• The Assassination of Julio Mella
• I Am Expelled From the Party
• Cuernavaca
• Frida Becomes My Wife
• A Bid To Paint in the San Francisco Stock Exchange
• One-Man Show in the Museum of Modern Art
• A Visit with Henry Ford
• The Battle of Detroit
• Frida's Tragedy
• Holocaust in Rockefeller Center
• Reconstruction
• The Nazis Learn How to Deal with Me
• Pani Loses an Eye
• An Invitation From Mussolini
• Frida: Triumph and Anguish
• Trotsky
• The Enormous Necktie
• A Visit With Charlie Chaplin
• A Salute by the U.S. Navy
• Trotsky Again -- Dead
• A Second Time with Frida
• More Popular Than Wendell Willkie
• Pin-Ups, Saloon Style
• A Home For My Idols
• A Sunday In Alameda Park
• Cardinal Dougherty Defends
• Aftermaths
• Underwater
• Another Storm
• Cancer
• Yet Another Storm
• Frida Dies
• Emma -- I am Here Still
• Appendix: Statements by Angeline Belloff, Lupe Marin, Frida Kahlo, and Emma Hurtado
• Index
• Illustrations
o Rivera's archeological museum
o Rivera's four wives
o With his assistants in the Hospital de la Raza
o A self-portrait
o With Frida Kahlo
o With Siqueiros and Emma Hurtado
o Rivera outside his birthplace
o Newspaper photos of the Rockefeller Center affair
o The reconstructed mural
o "Water, Origin of Life"
o Mural in the Hospital de la Raza
o "Sunday Dream"
o Mural on the Teatro de los Insurgentes
o Edsel Ford
o A satirical cubist portrait
o Mural in the National Palace
o Mural in the Cortes Palace
o Peace mural
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:07 am

by Gladys March

GENETICALLY, THIS BOOK BEGAN as a newspaper interview which Rivera granted me in the spring of 1944. But it did not begin to assume the proportions of a book -- even in my mind -- until the following year when we first discussed my writing it. I spent six months with Rivera in 1945, working hard at what he would call "the preliminary sketch." In the years that followed, usually summers, I would go down to Mexico for a month or two to review and supplement my notes and to find out what "news" had occurred since my previous visit. Diego Rivera's was an active and many-sided personality: his mind was quick, his imagination staggering; so there was always much to be added. The interviews which began in 1944 ended in 1957 because my notes, now bulking over two thousand pages, suggested that I might now have all I needed.

From the outset, Rivera framed much of his dialogue in the form of short personal narratives, and these narratives compose the skeleton as well as much of the meat of this book. But a good deal of his talk, too, consisted of anecdotes, unguarded remarks, and opinions on art, people, and politics, which I later interpolated in their proper places in the story.

Fortunately for me, Rivera seemed to be flattered by the continual attentions of a young American woman. I literally walked in his shadow, and he let me go with him everywhere as he spun his tales. Most of our dictating sessions took place while Rivera was engaged in painting, at his studio. But conversations ran over into mealtimes, and I made notes in his car en route to lectures or parties, in his home, and on walks. I met his wives, his daughters, his friends -- many of the people who appear in this book.

In collating my notes, I found that much that Rivera had said orally could stand up as writing, or could not be changed without some loss, call it the flavor of his personality. Of course, nobody's dialogue is consistently good, but wherever I pared phrases, unwound sentences, or lopped off tautologies and digressions, I endeavored to remain faithful to Rivera's style. Essentially, this is Rivera's own story, told in his words. As such, it may not always coincide with what other people might call "the facts." Elie Faure was one of the first to recognize a dominant quality of the artist's mind: "Mythologer, I said to myself, perhaps even mythomaniac!"

Rivera, who was afterwards, in his work, to transform the history of Mexico into one of the great myths of our century, could not, in recalling his own life to me, suppress his colossal fancy. He had already converted certain events, particularly of his early years, into legends. Both Bertram D. Wolfe and Ernestine Evans, who wrote books about him, grappled with this problem. And the reader will react to it according to his purposes as he encounters it here. My task, however, was to be neither judge nor censor. An autobiography must encompass the whole man: what he has made of the facts, as well as the facts themselves.

In addition to recording and organizing Rivera's dictation, and making grammatical and literary changes in the text, I added -- always with his approval -- material from previously published books, articles, and interviews to fill in such gaps as inevitably appeared. For this reason, however, no claim can be laid to completeness or definitiveness. There were aspects of his life which Rivera did not care to recall, and as his amanuensis, I could only respect his reticence.

The artist's account of his relations with Leon Trotsky, for instance, all but conceals a genuine attraction he felt toward Trotsky's Fourth International. But when I met Rivera, in 1944, he was seeking readmittance into the Communist Party. For this reason, also, his description of his journey to Russia in 1927 omits much that he had earlier confided to his biographer, Bertram D. Wolfe, particularly of his skirmishes with Soviet bureaucrats, artists, and art theorists.

But a man's life is his own, and his summation of it is his own, too. As I go over this book for the last time in manuscript, I think that it is one of the frankest confessions I have ever read. If Rivera now spares the Soviets, he does not spare himself; he certainly does not spare his enemies. And the breadth of his sympathies, the vitality and love for life which runs through his prose as it does through his paintings -- who can allow these qualities to a mere fictional man? Essentially, then, this is Rivera's apologia: a self-portrait of a complex and controversial personality, and a key to the work of perhaps the greatest artist the Americas have yet produced.


As I was preparing the final pages of manuscript, I received the news that Diego Rivera had died on November 25, 1957, in his home in San Angel.

In contrast with so much of his life, marked by the furor of partisan controversy, his death came peacefully.

Up until several weeks before the end, Rivera had been at work, painting with the vigor which had characterized his work for more than half a century. An attack of phlebitis paralyzed his right arm and he was put to bed. A heart specialist, a friend of the family, observed a steady deterioration in his condition.

At 11:30 on the night of November 25th, he rang the bell beside his adjustable hospital-type bed.

His wife, Emma Hurtado, came into the room. "Shall I raise the bed?" she asked.

He replied, "On the contrary, please lower it."

These were his last words.

Dressed in a blue suit and tie and a red shirt, and sheathed in a casket of brown steel, the remains of Diego Rivera were lowered into the earth of the Rotunda of Mexico's Illustrious Sons, Dolores Cemetery. In the same hallowed ground lie the bones of Benito Juarez, Mexico's greatest hero.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:08 am


THE MOUNTAINS OF GUANAJUATO rise seven thousand feet into the clear Mexican air. At their base is a bowl- shaped hollow which, even a small way up the slopes, appears to be strewn with tiles of many colors. The mountains are rugged and lowering, but they hold rich veins of silver. In the year 1550, a mule driver named uan Rayas discovered the first of Guanajuato's silver mines. Four years later a group of Spaniards settled in a curve of the bowl and thus founded the town. From that time to this, the people of Guanajuato have taken silver from the rocks.

The town is in central Mexico; its houses are flat-roofed, the windows are shadowed and deep, and there is a somnolent air about the afternoons. Even in my childhood the silver-rush days were already only a memory, for most of the veins near the surface of the ground had been emptied. It was other places in Mexico that were luring the fortune hunters and adventurers.

The house of my parents, Diego and Maria Barrientos Rivera, was located at 80 Pocitos Street, in the heart of Guanajuato. It was like a small marble palace in which the queen, my mother, was also diminutive, almost childlike, with large innocent eyes -- but adult in her extreme nervousness.

There was mixed blood on both sides of my family. My maternal grandmother, Nemesis Rodriguez Valpuesta, was of an Indian and Spanish mixture. The family of my maternal grandfather, Juan Barrientos, a mine operator, had come from the port of Alvarado, celebrated all over Mexico for its excellent fish, its opulent fruit, and the gaiety and vigor of its Negroid people. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that my mother passed on to me the traits of three races; white, red, and black.

My father's mother, Grandmother Ynez Acosta, was descended from a Portuguese-Jewish family which traced its ancestry to the rationalist philosopher Uriel Acosta. At fifteen she had married my paternal grandfather, Don Anastasio de Rivera. Don Anastasia was then sixty, a veteran officer of the Spanish army, and the son of an Italian who had also served as an officer in the military forces of Spain. While still in the Spanish army, my paternal great- grandfather had been sent on a diplomatic mission to Russia at the end of the eighteenth century. There my grandfather had been born. No one in Spain knew who my grandfather's mother had been. As my grandfather told my father, many could present themselves as the son of an unknown father, but only he, Don Anastasio, enjoyed the distinction of being the son of an unknown mother. The explanation was that my Italian great-grandfather had married in Russia, his wife died in childbirth, and he brought his son back with him to Spain. It was through Don Anastasio that I could claim the title to Spanish nobility which I afterwards transferred to a relative.

Don Anastasia did not marry till after he had come to Mexico, and at an age when most men are considered old. He was, however, a man of fabulous vigor. At sixty-five he joined Juarez in the war against the French and the Church. When he settled down again, he quickly amassed a large fortune. To his wife, he presented a brood of nine children. He was seventy-two when a twenty-year-old girl, jealous of the attention he still bestowed on my grandmother, gave him poison to drink, and so he died.

Through the long years that followed, in which my Grandmother Ynez raised and supported her children, she never forgot my grandfather, Don Anastasio, with whom she continued to be madly in love. She would tell us that no young man of twenty could have served her as a lover better than he had.

Hearing this over and over again from my grandmother, my naturally fearful mother came to suspect that my father had inherited this terrible virility. And not without reason. My father was a powerfully built man, tall, black-bearded, handsome, and charming. He was fifteen years her senior, but in speaking of his age, my mother would give him additional years in the hope of making him seem less attractive to other women.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:08 am


TO THESE PARENTS, a twin brother and I were born on the night of December 8, 1886. I, the older, was named Diego after my father, and my brother, arriving a few minutes later, was named Carlos. My whole name actually is Diego Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodriguez.

The coming of Carlos and me brought great joy to my parents. At twenty-two, my mother had already had four pregnancies, of which the first three had ended in stillbirths. After each child was born dead, my father had gone out and bought my mother a doll to console her. Now he did not buy a doll but cried with delight.

However, when he was only a year and a half, my twin brother Carlos died. My mother developed a terrible neurosis, installed her-self beside his tomb, and refused to leave. My father, then a municipal councillor, was obliged to rent a room in the home of the caretaker of the cemetery in order to be with her at night. The doctor warned my father that, unless my mother's mind was distracted by some kind of work, she would become a lunatic.

The family explained her case to my mother and urged her to study for a career. She agreed, chose obstetrics, and began her studies at once. To everyone's delight, the cure succeeded. My mother's melancholia passed. In school, she proved to be a brilliant student and received her diploma in half the regular time.

At two years old, according to photographs and the tales of my father and mother, I was thin and had rickets. My health was so poor that the doctor advised that I be sent to the country to live a healthy, outdoor life, lest I die like my brother.

For this reason, my father gave me to Antonia, my Indian nurse. Antonia, whom I have since loved more than my own mother, took me to live with her in the mountains of Sierra.

I can still recall Antonia vividly. A tall, quiet woman in her middle twenties, she had wonderful shoulders, and walked with elegant erectness on magnificently sculptured legs, her head held high as if balancing a load. Visually she was an artist's ideal of the classic Indian woman, and I have painted her many times from memory in her long red robe and blue shawl.

Antonia's house was a primitive shack in the middle of a wood. Here she practiced medicine with herbs and magic rites, for she was something of a witch doctor. She gave me complete freedom to roam in the forest. For my nourishment, she bought me a female goat, big, clean, and beautiful, so that I would have milk fresh from its udders.

From sunrise to sunset, I was in the forest, sometimes far from the house, with my goat who watched me as a mother does a child. All the animals in the forest became my friends, even dangerous and poisonous ones. Thanks to my goat-mother and my Indian nurse, I have always enjoyed the trust of animals -- a precious gift. I still love animals infinitely more than human beings.

I had left my home for Antonia's when I was two years old, and I returned when I was four. Now I was no longer scrawny, but robust and fat. But my body was out of proportion in two respects; my feet were too small for my legs, and my forehead was too high and wide for my face. However, my two years with Antonia had saved me from any early deformation of the mind; until then I had been growing up as the animals, free from human dirt. Many years later I wondered whether my father had not planned it so, that I might escape the prejudices and lies of adults.

Not long after my return from the mountains, I had my first encounter with adult duplicity. I was five. My mother was pregnant, and she wanted to fool me about the approaching birth. She told me the child would be delivered to her in a box which the train was carrying from afar. That day I waited at the depot and watched all the trains, but no box arrived for my mother. I was furious when I returned home and found that my sister Maria had been born during my absence.

In angry frustration, I caught a pregnant mouse and opened her belly with a pair of scissors. I wanted to see whether there were small mice inside her. When I found the mouse foetuses, I stomped into my mother's room and threw them directly in her face, screaming, "You liar -- liar." My mother became hysterical. She cried out that in giving birth to me she had whelped a monster. My father also scolded me. He told me of the pain I had caused the mouse in cutting her up alive. He asked if my curiosity was so strong that I could be indifferent to the sufferings of other creatures. To this day, I can recall the intensity of my reaction. I felt low, unworthy, cruel, as if I were dominated by an invisible evil force. My father even started to console me.

From that time on, I developed a keen desire to know about the origins of life. I began to teach myself to read, asking everyone I could, night and day, to help me learn the letters of the alphabet. Later, when I could make out a few words, I practiced reading my mother's obstetrics books and any other books I could borrow from our doctor.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:08 am


BESIDES MY MOTHER AND FATHER, my sister and myself, two female relations of my mother lived in the house on Pocitos Street. These two boarders, my Aunt Cesaria and my great-aunt Vicenta, were very religious. My father, who was a liberal and anticlerical, had worked out a truce with them. He did not interfere with their observances and even permitted them to display the religious pictures and images which figure so much in Catholic worship. Around my soul, however, he drew a line; that was off limits to the pious ones. Until I was six years old, I had never been inside a house of worship.

One day, without my father's knowledge, my great-aunt Vicenta risked taking me to the Church of San Diego. She thought I should pray to the Virgin Mary there for my mother's success in her diploma examinations which she was taking that morning.

On entering the Church, my revulsion was so great that I still get a sick feeling in my stomach when I recall it. I remember examining the wooden boxes with their slots on top for the coins, then the man at the door in his long, dirty smock, collecting more money in a tin plate. There were paintings all around of women and men sitting or walking on clouds with little winged boys flying above them.

In my own house, I had inspected my aunts' images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. I had scratched them and discovered that they were made of wood. I had put sticks into their glass eyes and through their ears to discover whether they could see, hear, or feel anything -- always, of course, with negative results.

In the church, my great-aunt Vicenta took her place among the crowd of old men and women, some of whom were kneeling. She whispered to me to beg the Virgin of Guanajuato to help my mother. I had a funny feeling then which I remember vividly. It was a mixture of indignation and an impulse to laugh at the people around me. I did not laugh, but I gave vent to my feelings by scornfully calling them idiots. My poor aunt and some other old ladies who had heard me tried to explain to me that they were not idiots, that I was only a boy and did not understand such things. My aunt had to be cautious with me because our visit to the church was a secret from my father who had forbidden my ever being taken there.

I said nothing more for the moment but sat quietly, looking at everything around me. I observed the carving on the altar and the images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, pictured as they were supposed to appear in heaven. Suddenly rage possessed me, and I ran from my aunt and climbed up the steps of the altar. Then at the top of my voice, I began to address the astonished worshipers. I remember the words because each one had a strange sound, each one left a burning imprint in my head.

"Stupid people! You reek of dirt and stupidity! You are so crazy that you believe that if I were to ask the portrait of my father, hanging in my house, for one peso, the portrait would actually give me one peso. You are utter idiots. In order to get pesos, I have to ask someone who has pesos to spare and is willing to give some to me. "You talk of heaven, pointing with your fingers over your head. What heaven is there? There is only air, clouds which give rain, lightning which makes a loud sound and breaks the tree branches, and birds flying. There are no boys with wings nor any ladies or gentlemen sitting on clouds.

"Clouds are water vapor which goes up when the heat of the sun's ray's strikes the rivers and lakes. You can see this vapor from the Guanajuato mountains. It turns to water which falls in drops, and so we have rain.

"At the entrance to this place, I saw boxes to collect money, and a man asking for more money. I also know the priest who comes often to our house to drink my aunt's good chocolate and glasses of liquor. With the money he collects for the church, he pays the painters and sculptors to paint all these lies and puppets. He does this to get more money to make stupid people like you believe that these are truths and to make you fear the Virgin Mary and God.

"In order to have the priest appease these idols to spare you because you are cruel, dirty, and bad people, you give this money to the priest. Does that fear stop the beggars, the poor people, and the jobless miners from sneaking into the houses of the rich people, the grocery stores, the clothing stores of the gabachos, and the haciendas of the gringos, and taking from them a little of what they need?"

At this point some terrified ladies began to scream. They made the sign of the cross in my direction, shouting, "This child is Satan! Satan has appeared in this child!"

The man with the long smock came over to me with a big brass cup full of water which he threw over me, all the while making the sign of the cross. By now my fury had passed, and I was full of mischievous fun. No longer preaching, I began taunting the worshipers with the worst insults and profanities I had learned up to that time.

Suddenly the priest came out, dressed in an impressive robe crusted over with gold embroidery. In his left hand, he held a big book from which he read loudly while looking at me foolishly. I retreated to the small altar at the right, calculating eventually to take a candlestick and throw it at him.

With my back to the wall so that I could not be attacked from the rear and with my hands clenched, I faced the priest. "What about you, you old fool?" I said. "If there really is a Holy Virgin or anyone up in the air, tell them to send lightning to strike me down or let the stones of the vault fall on my head. If you are unable to do that, Mr. Priest, you're nothing but a puppet taking money from stupid old women. You're no better than the clown in the circus coaxing coins from the public. If God doesn't stop me, then there must be no God."

The priest read on more loudly than before, making funny signs in the air. Nothing happened. The atmosphere was so charged with hatred against me that I looked up to the dome to see if stones were really starting to fall.

Then I look two steps toward the priest and shouted, "You see that your God, your Virgin, and your saints mean no more to me than your old book and your signs." Then I grabbed the candlestick in my hands.

"Get out of here!" I shouted.

Whether he was trying to prevent a scandal or simply didn't know how to cope with a boy like me, I can't tell; but the priest closed his book, covered his head, and ran out. At that moment, I wouldn't have changed places with anyone in the world. I took the center of the altar and, gesticulating with my fists, I shouted, "You see, there is no God! You're all stupid cows!"

Many rough-looking men had joined the old people, but when I said, "There is no God," they put their hands over their eyes and ears and ran away. They pushed each other in their panic to get out of the church, crying as they ran, "The devil is here!"

My great-aunt, melting in tears, gathered me in her arms to carry me out of the profaned church of San Diego. When we reached the street, I expected to be pelted with stones, but the people were too busy shutting their windows and doors against the devil. The streets were as empty as if a herd of wild bulls had stampeded into town.

My great-aunt ran with me through the streets and up into the mountains. She didn't bring me home until late in the afternoon.

When we returned, a crowd of doctors and fellow students were dancing in the street with my successful, pretty mother. They were celebrating my mother's passing her examinations.

If that morning I came to know the feeling of triumph, I learned the nature of jealousy that afternoon. No one paid me any attention.

That night, however, as I was blowing out the candles before going to bed, three old gentlemen called at my house. They wore top hats and black riding boots and behaved in a very formal manner. Stiffly they requested an audience with Don Diego de Rivera.

My mother, supposing that they had come to see my father about fighting a duel, paled as she called him. But my father, who never avoided a fight or an adventure, came out immediately. On seeing them, he pretended not to know them, though actually they were friends of his. One of the gentlemen asked if they could speak with his son, Diego. Hearing my name, I came forward saying, "At your command, sirs."

My visitors took off their hats, and the eldest, looking stately in his big white mustache, made me this speech:

"We come to you here, in the name and as representatives of the eleven freedom veterans in Guanajuato. We men are liberals, veterans of the wars against invaders, and fighters for reform and liberty. Our brotherhood keeps up the fight for freedom and the rights of men. After today we consider you our younger brother, and we have come to invite you publicly to join our group. We sit every day in the Union Garden at the time of the evening paseo. No fanatic, conservative, or Catholic would dare sit with us without fearing to be condemned to hell. Therefore, we never suffer intrusion.

"We veterans have fought with arms, thoughts, writings, and speeches against clericalism. You are a legitimate son of our brotherhood and as much our brother as is your father. Both he and your grandfather have been distinguished members of our order. No wonder you have performed such a feat at the outset of your life -- a feat superior to any of ours. Not one of us has ever used the freedom of speech and thought inside of the house of religion itself! We congratulate you, young wolf. Will you shake hands and join us?"

With great pride, I shook each man's hand. I felt so full of new learning and vanity that I left home with them that evening, without asking my parents' permission. From then on, I was permitted to sit with them whenever I chose, on their special benches in the park. And these graybeards of between fifty and eighty talked to me as if I were their peer, although much of their conversation was beyond me.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:08 am


AT THE AGE OF SIX, I had three ambitions.

The first was to be an engineer. Everyone in Guanajuato, in fact, already called me "the engineer" because I loved mechanical toys. I would also go out to the railroad depot to watch the trains come in and depart. After a while, I made friends with some of the railroad workers, and they would take me for short rides in the cab, even allowing me to hold the throttle and blow the whistle. I would return home from these journeys filled with excitement and wild plans for the future.

My second ambition was to become the lover of a beautiful girl named Virginia Mena.

My third ambition was to be accepted by a group of local women whom I adored. These women were prostitutes who served the Guanajuato miners. The miners paid them in gold and silver which they spent on fantastically gorgeous clothes. Many times they got into murderous fights which left them scarred from their ears to the corners of their mouths.

My first two ambitions were never realized. But to my dying day I shall never forget those whores. I became their pet and they my love.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:09 am


As FAR BACK as I can remember, I was drawing. Almost as soon as my fat baby fingers could grasp a pencil, I was marking up walls, doors, and furniture. To avoid mutilation of his entire house, my father set aside a special room where I was allowed to write on anything I wished. This first "studio" of mine had black canvas draped on all the walls and on the floor, Here I made my earliest "murals."

I still have a drawing that my mother preserved from the time I was two years old. It represents a locomotive with a caboose, going uphill.

My favorite subjects in childhood were machines -- especially trains, locomotives, and train crashes. Then came battles, besieged trains falling from bridges, and occasionally mountains, with the mines showing inside them.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:09 am


FROM THE AGE OF THIRTEEN, when he enlisted in the war against the French invaders, my father had dedicated his life to freedom and progress. He fought against the French for seven years; at twenty, he returned to Guanajuato with the rank of major. Feeling now that education was the great need of the country, he left the army to become a teacher, then an inspector of the rural schools of the state. During his inspection tours, he saw the misery and ignorance in which the people lived. He became deeply moved and was seized with a burning zeal for reform. Never a man to hold his tongue, he gave vent to his feelings in a journal he edited called The Democrat. In impassioned articles, he took the side of the oppressed -- the miners and the peasants. As a result, he incurred the enmity of fellow officials.

This enmity extended to the other members of my family; my performance in the Church of San Diego had already given us a bad name in the town. We were subjected to petty persecutions. My mother was frightened by frequent street riots and demonstrations. One day she fell into a panic, sold everything except a few personal belongings, and went off with my sister and me to Mexico City. I was not quite seven at the time.

When my father returned home from an inspection tour, he was somewhat taken aback. However, he soon learned from neighbors where we had gone, and he followed us willingly. He had recently lost money in unlucky mining speculations, and a change of scene must not have appeared unattractive. But the home we found was a poor one in a poor neighborhood. My father had to take a small clerkship in the Department of Public Health. My mother set up as a midwife, but it was some time before she was able to build up a practice.

As for myself, our poverty diet undermined my resistance, and I came down first with scarlet fever and then with typhoid. Then my mother became pregnant again and was sick much of the time. The new baby, a boy named Alfonso, lived no more than a week.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:09 am


IN THE THIRD YEAR our lot improved, and we moved into a better neighborhood in the northern part of the city, close to where the Monument of the Revolution stands. Nearby was an immense open area which, with the district of San Rafael, comprised the ejido of Mexico City -- that is, the communal land of the Indian population. It was an ideal playground and here, with other children, I romped and went fishing in the canals.

At eight, I entered my first school, the Colegio del Padre Antonio. This clerical school was the choice of my mother, who had fallen under the influence of her pious sister and aunt. Except for a French teacher named Ledoyen, a former officer of the French army and a communist, there was nobody and nothing in the school that I liked, and I left it after a few months.

I was next sent to another clerical school, the Liceo Catolico Hispano, conducted by an intelligent priest, Father Servine. Here I was given good food as well as free instruction, books, various working tools, and other things. I was put in the third grade, but having been prepared well by my father, I was soon skipped to the sixth grade.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:09 am


OF GREAT IMPORTANCE to me at this period was my first experience of sexual love. My mistress was a young American teacher at the Protestant school. She was eighteen years old and as beautiful and sensitive a creature as any I have known. Though I was only nine, I was already virile. It excited her to discover in me an unsuspected, deep-rooted masochism, and she would thrill me by reciting stories about the holy martyrs. With her, I came to manhood suddenly and completely and was spared the torment of solitary yearning which is the usual lot of a growing boy.

She gave me her voluptuous body, the summit of earthly delight. And she prepared me for the arms of my second mistress, a generous Negroid girl, wife of an engineer on the Mexican Central Railroad. When her husband was away, I joined this lass in a nearby pasture. I was then twelve or thirteen and already a student in the San Carlos School of Fine Arts.
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