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

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:27 am


DURING THOSE SIX STORMY MONTHS with Marievna, I had done almost no work. Now I put all my energy again into my painting. Unfortunately, the painting I was now doing found no buyers. Angeline and I were down and out. Our flat was bitingly cold. When our little son, born just before my affair with Marievna, became sick, there was no money for doctors or medicine or, for that matter, for food, and the baby died.

This innocent death terribly depressed me. I had looked forward to the birth of Angeline's child. In 1917 I had done a series of three portraits of her to commemorate her motherhood, the first showing her before her pregnancy, her sensitive face tilted at an angle above her long, slender neck in a characteristic attitude for which our friend Serna had affectionately nicknamed her "The Blue- bird." The second showed her during pregnancy and accentuated the maternal roundness of her belly. In the third portrait, I painted her with our son Diego, Jr., her breast exposed, and the child suckling.

Only once before had a death moved me so strongly. Shortly before the war, a major political figure emerged from the French left. Everybody, myself included, went to hear the speeches of Jean Jaures. Jaures was an orator of incendiary vigor, with a mind like a steel trap. Seeing and hearing Jaures address the masses and watching the response of the many thousands who composed his audience, had been an inspiration. When Jaures died at the hands of a "patriot assassin," it was as if a part of me had also been struck down.

With the memory of Jaures, I associate the day I saw for the first time, in Paris, a huge mass of people all moving together, enthusiastic but orderly, in a powerful solidarity of faith and purpose. This vision I later transposed in many ways in heroic murals where, also, the hero was not an individual but a mass. Particular leaders emerged from this mass but only as its antennae and speakers, to receive, formulate and transmit the collective thoughts, aspirations and dreams of their unnumbered fellows.

The Mathematician. c. 1918. Oil on canvas, 45-1/2 x 31-5/8" (114.4 x 80.5 cm). Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino, Mexico City

Following the death of my son, I intensified my labors to rid myself of modernist residues in my work. By the end of 1919 I felt that I had cleansed myself sufficiently to take the next step and, by research and study, prepare myself for my new career as a mural painter. To obtain the money I needed to live and travel, I turned to a brother Mexican, the engineer Alberto Pani, then serving as Mexican Minister to France. Pani, who was later to figure in one of the great Rivera art scandals, bought my portrait "The Mathematician," and commissioned portraits of himself and his wife. With the money I received for these, I went to Italy to study the frescoes of the old masters.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:29 am


Clinic of Dr. Jean Louis Faure. 1920. Pencil and graphite on brown paper, 8-1/2 x 10-3/4" (20.6 x 27.3 cm). Courtesy Mary-Anne Martin/Fine Art, New York

My ITALIAN TRAVELS took me from Milan southward to Florence, Rome, Naples, and Pompeii; and then north ward, along the Adriatic coast, through Venice. I spent a year and a half in Italy, from January, 1920 to July, 1921.

My stay in Italy did not begin well. No sooner had I arrived than I wanted to leave. Among other things I could not bear the Italian habit of spitting everywhere -- in the street, in ships. in hotels, in restaurants. Everybody spat, including the loveliest and most refined ladies. I remember a banquet at which I met the cream of Italian society, where the most conspicuous objects were gleaming brass cuspidors.

But I soon learned to make allowance for this revolting custom. There was so much to see in Italy -- the marvelous treasures of Michelangelo and Giotto, Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca, and Antonello da Messina. I could not bear to go to bed. While traveling in trains, I went third class, slept through the trip, and in that way saved time as well as money. To this day, I can sleep in trains and automobiles and wake up as refreshed as if I had been cradled in a soft hotel bed.

During my seventeen months in Italy, I completed more than three hundred sketches from the frescoes of the masters and from life. Many of the latter depicted street clashes between socialists and fascists which occurred before my eyes. I often sketched while bullets whistled around my ears.

Portrait of Jean Cocteau. 1918. Pencil, 18-1/8 x 11-3/4" (46 x 30 cm). Carlton Lake Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

When I had reached the point where I thought I could apply what I had learned about mural painting, the question arose, In what country should I begin? I had had enough of France. My friend David Sternberg, the Soviet People's Commissar of the Fine Arts, had invited me to Russia. I was tempted to go. But the call of my country was stronger than ever. And a turn in the political situation seemed to favor my prospects. The landlord dictator, Venustiano Carranza, had been overthrown by the peasants and workers who supported Alvaro Obregon. An artist with my revolutionary point of view could now find a place in Mexico -- a place in which to work and grow.

Good-bye, Europe. Good-bye, Italy. Good-bye, France, Goodbye, Spain. For a second time, the exile was coming home.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:29 am


MY HOMECOMING produced an esthetic exhilaration which it is impossible to describe. It was as if I were being born anew, born into a new world. All the colors I saw appeared to be heightened; they were clearer, richer, finer, and more full of light. The dark tones had a depth they had never had in Europe. I was in the very center of the plastic world, where forms and colors existed in absolute purity. In everything I saw a potential masterpiece -- the crowds, the markets, the festivals, the marching battalions, the workingmen in the shops and fields -- in every glowing face, in every luminous child. All was revealed to me. I had the conviction that if I lived a hundred lives I could not exhaust even a fraction of this store of buoyant beauty.

The very first sketch I completed amazed me. It was actually good! From then on, I worked confidently and contentedly. Gone was the doubt and inner conflict that had tormented me in Europe. I painted as naturally as I breathed, spoke, or perspired. My style was born as children are born, in a moment, except that this birth had come after a torturous pregnancy of thirty-five years.

For the first six months, nevertheless, I painted no frescoes but supported myself with a succession of bizarre jobs. One was as art advisor for a publishing house that never published a book; another was as chief of propaganda trains -- a governmental scheme that came to nothing; and a third was as director of a workers' school which never opened its doors.

Then, at last, I was given a wall to cover at the National Preparatory School of the University of Mexico.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:29 am


One day as I was busily working in the studio I had recently set up, I was visited by the beautiful singer Concha Michel. She said to me, "Comrade Rivera, you're a cabron (bastard)!"

I laughed. "Agreed, comrade."

"Men call those women who like to go out with every man they please putas (prostitutes). You, Comrade Rivera, are a puto, since you go out with every woman you can."

"Correct, comrade," I responded.

"And what's more," Concha said, "you're shameless."

"I admit it."

"And you're in love with me; you're crazy about me; but you say nothing to me about your feelings because you fear me, knowing that I'm not a puta. You also know that I wouldn't leave the brave, stupid, and fairly honest man I'm living with to take up with a cabron like you. And that's not all I wish to say, either. In spite of the fact that you have said nothing to me because you're such a shameless puto, I'm as much in love with you as you are with me. You're so tricky and treacherous, though, that I'm not sure you won't get me to run away with you one of these days."

I replied, "All you say is correct, my dear friend, but if you're going to run off with me sooner or later, why not right now?"

"I've already taken steps not to make that mistake, the wisest possible under the circumstances. I realize that the only thing that can keep us apart is another woman who is handsomer, freer, and braver than I am. So I have sought her out. And I have brought her straight here to you!"

Concha walked to the door, called "Lupe!" and stepped aside.

A strange and marvelous-looking creature, nearly six feet tall, appeared. She was black-haired, yet her hair looked more like that of a chestnut mare than a woman's. Her green eyes were so transparent she seemed to be blind. Her face was an Indian's, the mouth with its full, powerful lips open, the corners drooping like those of a tiger. The teeth showed sparkling and regular: animal teeth set in coral such as one sees in old idols. Held at her breast, her extraordinary hands had the beauty of tree roots or eagle talons. She was round-shouldered, yet slim and strong and tapering, with long, muscular legs that made me think of the legs of a wild filly.

Concha introduced her. "My friend Lupe Marin from Guadalajara. Come into the room."

Lupe walked in slowly, her green eyes focusing upon the drawings I had been preparing, as it happened, for my National Preparatory School mural.

She stopped to gaze at me as at some inanimate object. Inclining her head, she looked me over from head to toes.

At last she turned to Concha. "Is this the great Diego Rivera?" she asked. "To me he looks horrible!"

Concha smiled with satisfaction. "Horrible, eh? All right. Everything is settled. Nothing can stop what's going to happen now!" And with that prophecy, she grabbed her things and ran out of the studio.

Lupe remained standing, silently glancing around the room. Finally her eyes fixed on a bowl on my work table. The bowl was filled with a pyramid of beautiful fruit.

"Why are those fruit there? Are you painting a still life?" Lupe asked.

"No, Lupe, they are there to be enjoyed both by looking and by eating."

"Can I eat some?"

"Of course, Lupe. Please eat all you want."

She sat down on a high draftsman's bench, took a banana with both hands, and peeled it skillfully like an ape. She ate the fruit rapidly, then casually threw the skin against the wall behind her. She took another piece of fruit and silently repeated this operation. Then another and another until there was nothing left in the bowl.

"Could you send someone out to buy me some more to eat?"

"Surely," I replied, and did as she asked.

When she had devoured a second mound of fruit, Lupe said, "I was hungry. I had not eaten anything for two whole days."

She rose and came toward me. "Shall I sit for you?"

"With much pleasure."

I began her first portrait, then a second and a third. Then I made four or five study heads for the auditorium, in addition to about twenty hands. After that day, we were together so much that it became a trial for both of us to be apart. By mutual consent, we became lovers.

One night, during a political meeting held in the house of a friend, Lupe sauntered in. She greeted everybody and then seriously and formally asked for the floor. In the curious silence which ensued, she delivered an excellent speech, using political, social, professional, and personal arguments to prove to her listeners that if Diego Rivera were not entirely a fool, he would marry her. As soon as she was done, I rose to second her.

That night we began living together, in the sight of all, as man and wife.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:29 am


A FEW DAYS after Lupe and I set up housekeeping, we went to the auditorium where I was to begin my mural. While painting, I suddenly heard, from behind one of the colonial pillars in the spacious room, the voice of an unseen girl.

Teasingly, she shouted, "On guard, Diego, Nahui is coming!"

Nahui was the Indian name of a talented woman painter who was posing for one of the auditorium figures.

The voice said no more, but another time, when I was at work with Nahui, I heard it again, "On guard, Diego, here comes Lupe!"

One night, as I was painting high on the scaffold and Lupe was sitting and weaving down below, there was a loud hubbub. It came from a group of young students shouting and pushing against the auditorium door. All at once the door flew open, and a girl who seemed to be no more than ten or twelve was propelled inside.

She was dressed like any other high school student but her manner immediately set her apart. She had unusual dignity and self-assurance, and there was a strange fire in her eyes. Her beauty was that of a child, yet her breasts were well developed.

She looked straight up at me. "Would it cause you any annoyance if I watched you at work?" she asked.

"No, young lady, I'd be charmed," I said.

She sat down and watched me silently, her eyes riveted on every move of my paint brush. After a few hours, Lupe's jealousy was aroused, and she began to insult the girl. But the girl paid no attention to her. This, of course, enraged Lupe the more. Hands on hips, Lupe walked toward the girl and confronted her belligerently. The girl merely stiffened and returned Lupe's stare without a word.

Visibly amazed, Lupe glared at her a long time, then smiled, and in a tone of grudging admiration, said to me, "Look at that girl! Small as she is, she does not fear a tall, strong woman like me. I really like her."

The girl stayed about three hours. When she left, she said only, "Good night." A year later I learned that she was the hidden owner of the voice which had come from behind the pillar and that her name was Frida Kahlo. But I had no idea that she would one day be my wife.

I continued working on the National Preparatory School mural. The school was in an old baroque building constructed in the first half of the eighteenth century. The surface I worked on was the arched front wall. In the lower center was an antique pipe organ, and I incorporated both the arch and the organ into the design of my mural; the former, by repeating the suggestion of a rainbow arch in the colors and disposition of the allegorical figures rising symmetrically from both sides of the wall; the latter, by blending its lines into the pyramidal Tree of Life which I depicted in the center.

The subject of the mural was Creation, which I symbolized as everlasting and as the core of human history. More specifically, I presented a racial history of Mexico through figures representing all the types that had entered the Mexican blood stream, from the autochthonous Indian to the present-day, half-breed Spanish Indian.

In the Tree of Life were four symbolic animals in which were recognizable features of the lion, the ox, the caribou, and the eagle. At its apex was the torso of a hermaphroditic man, his arms outstretched to the right and left.

To the right, at the foot of the tree, sat a nude male, his back to the beholder, in conversation with Knowledge and Fable. Behind them sat figures representing the Poetry of Passion, Tradition, and Tragedy. On a slightly higher plane, a rising group of figures represented Prudence, Strength, Justice, and Continence, with Science the topmost figure.

To the left of the tree sat a female nude posed for by Lupe. She was listening to Music blowing a gold double reed and watching Dance. Seated at the side of Music was Song, also modeled by Lupe in purple skirt and red shawl, and directly behind these two, Comedy.

The three theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, and, above them, Wisdom, completed the figures on the left side.

The "rainbow" of human forms was closed by a blue half circle under the keystone of the arch, from which poured three rays of light materializing in hands pointing downward and to the sides of the mural, toward the earth, and signifying solar energy, the life source of all.

The mural covered a thousand square feet. Each figure was twelve feet tall. The process I used was the ancient wax encaustic. I labored continuously for an entire year until the spring of 1922. Yet, though my interpretation of the Creation was essentially progressive, I was dissatisfied when the work was done. It seemed to me too metaphorical and subjective for the masses. In my next mural, begun in 1923, in the courtyard of the Education Building, I would come closer to my purpose.

While I was at work on the National Preparatory School mural, Lupe began to worry increasingly about how her family would react when they learned about our irregular union. So one day, for her peace of mind, I acceded to her wish for a church marriage.

I had just returned that morning from Puebla, a revolutionary stronghold. The Communist Party in that city was forming a united front with the forces of Calles and Obregon against reactionary followers of the late General Huerta.

Wearing a red ribbon in my hat and high boots on my feet, I brought Lupe, dressed in an ordinary dress instead of the traditional lace, before the parish priest. The latter happened to be the same Father Servine who had directed the Liceo Catolico where I had studied as a boy.

Father Servine could hardly believe that we were serious about getting married. We had neither the rings to exchange nor the customary ritual money. However, from the pockets of witnesses, we managed to obtain not only a sufficient quantity of small silver but also two makeshift rings, one of copper, the other of horn. Both seemed to symbolize fittingly our bizarre union.

In the same year that I completed the Preparatory School mural, I took one of the most important steps of my life -- I became a member of the Communist Party.

Then, together with my painter friends David Alfaro Siqueiros and Xavier Guerrero as coeditors, I began writing for El Machete, the official newspaper of the Mexican Communist Party, and continued to do so until my expulsion from the Party.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:30 am


WHILE I WAS WORKING on my Preparatory School mural, a group of young painters began to collect around me, some of whom, fascinated by an art form new to them, became my assistants. Soon we were banding together to win acceptance for social art. We found an ally in Lombardo Toledano, the young director of the school, and thanks to him, four of my young friends were given wall space in the school equal to mine before I had even finished my own work. Scarcely had all this activity gotten under way when passionate discussions about the new art reverberated through all social strata of the city. When the Minister of Education, who had so far remained uncommitted, realized what repercussions our efforts were creating at all levels of society, he adopted our ideas and -- luckily for our work -- proclaimed from above the usefulness of monumental painting on the walls of public buildings.

Portrait of David Alfaro Siqueiros. 1921. Charcoal and red chalk on tan paper, 15-1/4 x 9-1/2" (38.8 x 24.4 cm). Museo Diego Rivera, INBA, Guanajuato

Our group then formed the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors. Its members included Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Xavier Guerrero, Jean Charlot, Carlos Merida, Ramon Alba, Fermin Revueltos, and the youthful Maximo Pacheco.

We applied for and received work under financial arrangements identical to those of house painters. Soon frescoes blossomed on the walls of schools, hotels, and other public buildings, in spite of violent attacks by the bourgeois intelligentsia and the press under its influence. But the workers of town and country strongly supported us -- and our enemies did not prevail.

We began to have a strong influence, also, on art students of the country who were penned in at the academies.

These students had been mincing their way through a well-behaved impressionism, reflecting what had been done in Paris around 1900. It goes without saying that we disturbed this sedate regime. Art instruction changed orientation completely. Free art schools opened everywhere, and thousands of workers and children of workers brought forth remarkable productions. Their work fused quite naturally with ours, creating the art movement which European and American art critics have dubbed the "Mexican Renaissance."
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:31 am


IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE DECORATION of the Preparatory School, I was commissioned to paint the loggias of the two large courtyards and the stairwell in the Ministry of Education.

For several months before beginning my work in this government building, I roamed the country in search of material. It was my desire to reproduce the pure, basic images of my land. I wanted my paintings to reflect the social life of Mexico as I saw it, and through my vision of the truth, to show the masses the outline of the future.

The Ministry building is a huge rectangle of stone and masonry two blocks long and three stories high. It is divided into two unequal halves, the larger of which I called the Court of Fiestas and the smaller the Court of Labor, according to the murals I painted on their walls.

I arranged my work as follows: on the ground floor of the Court of Labor, I painted frescoes of industrial and agricultural labor; on the mezzanine level, frescoes of scientific activities; and on the upper floor level, frescoes representing the arts -- sculpture, dance, music, poetry, folk epic, and theatre.

In the Court of Fiestas, I used a similar and also analogous scheme: on the ground level, frescoes of the great mass folk festivals; on the mezzanine level, frescoes of festivals of predominantly intellectual importance; and on the top floor, the Great Song frescoes based on the folk music of the people, music which expressed the people's will and revolutionary wishes from the time of the country's independence up to the revolution.

I also painted both walls of a steep stairway and of a corridor leading to the elevator. In all this work, each fresco was individual and separate in itself, yet all were interrelated.

Before beginning to paint, I studied the quality and intensity of the sunlight which hit a particular wall, and the architectural details -- the arches and columns -- and how they broke the sunlight and framed the space. Like the building itself, my colors were heavier, solider, and darker at the base than they were as the structure rose toward the luminescent sky.

Working sometimes as many as seven days a week and eighteen hours a day, and with only one break for a short trip to Russia, I spent over four years on the 124 frescoes which cover more than five thousand square feet. At odd moments during this time, I painted thirty-nine other frescoes in the Agricultural College at Chapingo.

The work of the people that I depicted in the Court of Labor was weaving, cloth-dyeing, farming, and mining. As in life, the workers' lot is not easy: I showed the miners, for example, entering a mine in one panel and emerging in the adjacent panel, weary and exhausted. Interspersed with such scenes were others demonstrating how the people might achieve their redemption. In one fresco, I painted a rural school teacher at her noble work while armed peasants stood guard; in another, partisans fought to liberate the peons. Several of the other frescoes depicted the redistribution of the land.

In the Court of Fiestas, I represented a contrasting mood of Mexican life. Here, the people turned from their exhausting labors to their creative life, their joyful weddings, and their lively fiestas: the Burning of the Judases, the Dance of the Deer, the Tehuanas Dance, the Dance of the Ribbons, the Corn Harvest Dance, the May Day Dance, and others. In addition, I depicted what could become a great source of happiness for the Mexican Indian if it could but be realized -- scenes showing the self-sufficiency of the ejidos, the land given the Indian to farm.

Along the stairway, I continued painting in the same happy, prophetic spirit. I did an interpretive painting of the Mexican landscape rising from the sea to hills, plateaus, and mountain peaks. Alongside this representation of the ascending landscape was an accompanying symbolic view of the progress of man. Allegorical figures personified the ascending stages of the social evolution of the country from a primitive society through the people's revolutions, to the liberated and fulfilled social order of the future.

At the head of this stairway, I painted what, in my estimation, is one of my best self-portraits. I included myself in a trio of workers chiefly responsible for the building and its decoration. Here I figured as the architect. The other figures were the stonecutter and the painter, their identities also deliberately masked.

As my work went on, I kept experimenting with and making discoveries in the techniques of painting on wall surfaces. For example, after much trial and error, I found that for best results, the lime I used had to be burned over a fire made only with wood and then stored in rubber bags for three months. The rubber keeps the lime from absorbing carbon dioxide from the air.

Gradually, I worked out the procedures which I have followed more or less to the present day.

Before painting, I have my helpers prepare a surface of three or four plaster coats, the last a mixture of lime with fine marble dust. After the next-to-last coat has been applied, I make my charcoal outlines, to scale, directly from my paper sketch.

My helpers knife out a deep stencil of this outline before putting on the last layer of surface. This final coat is applied late the night before, or at dawn of the day I begin to paint, for the painting must be finished within six to twelve hours, before it dries, so that the color can be absorbed into the plaster. On a dry surface, paint eventually flakes off.

When I first arrive, I paint all the outlined figures in gray on the section which has been prepared for that day. At this time, too, I make all last-minute revisions. Then I do the final work in color, using pigments which have been ground especially for me by my helpers and mixed with distilled water into a paste.

At the end of a day's work, I stand back at a fair distance to study and criticize what I have just done. If, as sometimes happens, I am dissatisfied, I have the whole area cleaned and a new coat of lime laid on. Then I redo the work the next day. I started this practice of criticism and revision from the very beginning, and I have adhered to it to the present day.

During my work in the courtyard of the Ministry of Education, there occurred the first of the many controversies which were to mark my mural-painting career.

In a fresco on the ground floor of the Court of Labor depicting fatigued miners stumbling from their pits, I painted the words of a revolutionary poem by Gutierrez Cruz. The poem exhorted the miners to shape the metal they extracted into daggers and seize the mines for themselves. An immediate storm broke in the press. Jose Vasconcelos, the Minister of Education through whom I had received my government commission, begged me to remove the offending poem; he said that it was making his job of explaining the whole composition impossible. The Painters' Union demanded that I stand my ground. The clamor grew louder. I finally yielded to Vasconcelos, and one of my helpers chipped the words off the wall, The Minister of Education, however, also compromised by allowing me to paint, in the adjoining panel, a peasant and a worker embracing one another. On this panel, I painted some verses from a somewhat milder poem by Cruz. New outcries were heard, but this time everyone stood firm and the storm blew over.

By the middle of 1927, I had completed my work in the chapel of the Agricultural College at Chapingo. The underlying theme of this composition was a principle set forth by Zapata, which I stated in one sentence in a conspicuous portion of the mural overlooking the main stairway: Here it is taught to exploit the land but not the man. This sentiment was certainly appropriate for an agricultural college.

Like the murals in the Ministry of Education Building, those of Chapingo consisted of a series of frescoes. I painted them on walls within which an altar had stood in the chapel (now the school auditorium) of the old Spanish baroque building. As in the Education Building, my frescoes overflowed into the halls and stairway of the school.

In the entrance hall, I depicted the four seasons of the year, the recurrent cycle in the life of the land. In the chapel itself, I represented the processes of natural evolution. The bottom wall was dominated by a large female nude, one of several symbolizing The Fertile Land, and shown in harmony with man, whose function in agriculture I represented by having him hold the implements of his labors. Within the earth, I showed spirits, using their powers to aid man. One, for example, was a sphinx emerging from her flaming cave with arms outstretched to catch the flying spirits of the metals and put them to the service of industry.


My symbol for Nature was a colossal, dreaming woman. Securely clasped in her hands was an equally symbolic phallic plant. Around her I depicted the elements Wind, Water, and Fire, formerly uncontrollable, now, at the bidding of Nature, willing servants of man.

I used as my model for Nature the voluptuously beautiful nude figure of Lupe Marin. I used her again, this time pregnant, to represent The Fecund Earth. I drew her thus from life, for she was twice pregnant during the time I worked in Chapingo. Our first daughter, Lupe, nicknamed Pico ("pointy head"), was born in January, 1924; our second daughter, Ruth, or Chapo ("black as crude oil"), was born in the year the mural was completed, 1927.

I used Lupe's gorgeous nudity yet a third time to depict Earth enslaved by monopoly. In this representation, she was a bound prisoner surrounded by three symbolical oppressors, Clericalism, Militarism, and Capitalism.

Clericalism, standing above her, was in the black garb of the priest. Militarism, standing before her, wore a helmet, gas mask, gun, cartridge belt, and high boots, and flourished a drawn sword. Capitalism, sitting beside her head, was a fat man with a protruding belly, nude to the hips. His nose was gross and bulbous, his lips thick and sensual, his chin double, his eyes crafty, his ears extended outward from his skull. Beside him was a bulging bag of money.

The Chapingo frescoes were essentially a song of the land, its profundity, beauty, richness, and sadness. The dominant tones were violet, green, red, and orange. The work covered almost fifteen hundred square feet of wall space. After it was done I also designed the carvings for the two wooden doors at the entrance to the chapel.

In 1927, my fame established, I was invited by the Russian People's Commissar, Lunacharsky, to visit the Soviet Union as a guest painter for the Tenth Anniversary celebration of the October Revolution.

I was, of course, delighted. Lupe was furious at the exaltation I showed, because I was going without her. It was about this time that our marriage began to fall apart.

Lupe was a beautiful, spirited animal, but her jealousy and possessiveness gave our life together a wearying, hectic intensity. And I, unfortunately, was not a faithful husband. I was always encountering women too desirable to resist. The quarrels over these infidelities were carried over into quarrels over everything else. Frightful scenes marked our life together.

One night, for instance, Lupe served me a dish of fragments of some Aztec idols I had just bought. She explained that, since I had spent my money on the idols, there was none left to buy the food.

On another occasion, she found me making love to her sister, and left me in a scorching fit of anger. Later I went to fetch her in her parents' home in Guadalajara. The reconciliation was even more violent than the quarrel had been.

On other occasions, Lupe would tire me out with long denunciatory harangues and bitter arguments. The more we lived together, the more unhappy she seemed to become, and I welcomed the invitation to the Soviet Union as a pretext to get away from her.

Though Lupe and I have not lived together for many years, the memory of her exquisite nude body, which I painted in my very first mural, has remained with me. I have used this memory even in some of my most recent work. The curves and shadows of that wonderful creation left an indelible imprint on my painter's brain.

Before my departure, the poet Jorge Cuesta tearfully confessed to me that he was in love with Lupe. I did not even pretend to be angry, but gave him leave to court her and wished him success. I warned him, however, that Lupe was dangerous to men who were not very tough. Cuesta gave no heed to my warning. Soon after I left for Russia, he married her, and she bore him a son. Cuesta became mentally ill and castrated himself and the baby boy. The following year he hanged himself.

Some years later, Lupe wrote a popular novel entitled La Unica. In it, using very thin disguises, she described her life with me and with Cuesta.

As the train pulled out of the station on the first leg of my journey to the Soviet Union, Lupe's last words to me were, "Go to hell with your big-breasted girls!"

That's what she called the Russian women.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:31 am


On my way, I stopped over in Berlin and did some interesting paintings there. My friend and host, Willi Muenzenberg, asked me many questions about my life and work, and my statements were incorporated in an excellent book by another friend, Lotte Schwartz. Entitled Das Werk Diego Riveras, this volume covered my career up to the murals I had just completed. It was published by the Neuer Duetscher Verlag headed by Muenzenberg.

In 1928, Germany was in the throes of a crisis that, in the next year, would become world wide. The big German cartels were slipping into bankruptcy, one after another. There was a wave of suicides among the bourgeoisie. Hugo Stinnes, head of the steel trust, Admiral von Tirpitz, a shipping magnate, and Dr. Scheidemann, boss of the chemical industry, all put revolvers to their heads and blew out their brains.

A contagion of lunacy was abroad in the land. I felt its presence on two separate, apparently unrelated occasions.

One night Muenzenberg, a few other friends, and I disguised ourselves and, with forged credentials, attended the most astounding ceremony I have ever witnessed. It took place in the forest of Grunewald near Berlin.

From behind a clump of trees in the middle of the forest, there appeared a strange cortege. The marching men and women wore white tunics and crowns of mistletoe, the Druidic ceremonial plant. In their hands, they held green branches. Their pace was slow and ritualistic. Behind them four men bore an archaic throne on which was seated a man representing the war god, Wotan. This man was none other than the President of the Republic, Paul von Hindenberg! Garbed in ancient raiment, von Hindenburg held aloft a lance on which supposedly magic runes were engraved. The audience, Muenzenberg explained, took von Hindenburg for a reincarnation of Wotan. Behind Hindenburg's appeared another throne occupied by Marshal Ludendorff, who represented the thunder god, Thor. Behind the "god" trooped an honorary train of worshippers composed of eminent chemists, mathematicians, biologists, physicists, and philosophers. Every field of German "Kultur" was represented in the Grunewald that night.

The procession halted and the ceremony began. For several hours the elite of Berlin chanted and howled prayers and rites from out of Germany's barbaric past. Here was proof, if anyone needed it, of the failure of two thousand years of Roman, Greek, and European civilization. I could hardly believe that what I saw was really taking place before my eyes.

Nobody among my German leftist friends could give me any satisfactory explanation of the bizarre proceedings. Instead, they tried to laugh them off, calling the participants "crazy." To this day, I am puzzled by their collective lack of perception. Recalling that orgy of dry drunkenness and delirium, I found it impossible to imagine the least sensitive spectator dismissing what I had witnessed as only a harmless masquerade.

A few days later I saw Adolf Hitler address a mass meeting in Berlin, on a square before a building so immense that it took up the whole block. This structure was the headquarters of the German Communist Party. A temporary united front was then in effect between the Nazis and the Communists against the corrupt reformists and social democrats.

The square was literally jammed with twenty-five to thirty thousand Communist workers. Hitler arrived with an escort of nearly a thousand men. They crossed the square and halted below a window from which Communist Party leaders were watching. I was among them, having been invited by Muenzenberg, who was at my right. At my left stood Thaelmann, the Party's General Secretary. Muenzenberg interpreted by comments for Thaelmann, and translated Hitler's speech for me.

My Communist friends made mocking remarks about the "funny little man" who was to address the meeting, and considered those who saw a threat in him timorous or foolish.

As he prepared to speak, Hitler drew himself rigidly erect, as if he expected to swell out and fill his oversized English officer's raincoat and look like a giant. Then he made a motion for silence. Some Communist workers booed him, but after a few minutes the entire crowd became perfectly silent.

As he warmed up, Hitler began screaming and waving his arms like an epileptic. Something about him must have stirred the deepest centers of his fellow Germans, for after awhile I sensed a weird magnetic current flowing between him and the crowd. So profound was it that, when he finished, after two hours of speaking, there was a second of complete silence. Not even the Communist youth groups, instructed to do so, whistled at him. Then the silence gave way to tremendous, ear-shattering applause from all over the square.

As he left, Hitler's followers closed ranks around him with every sign of devoted loyalty. Thaelmann and Muenzenberg laughed like schoolboys. As for me, I was as mystified and troubled now as when I had witnessed the decadent ritual a few days before in the Grunewald. I could see nothing to laugh at. I actually felt depressed.

Muenzenberg, glancing at me, asked, "Diego, what's the matter with you?"

The matter with me was, I informed him, that I was filled with forebodings. I had a premonition that, if the armed Communists here permitted Hitler to leave this place alive, hemight live to cut off both of my comrades' heads in a few years.

Thaelmann and Muenzenberg only laughed louder. Muenzenberg complimented me on my artist's vivid imagination.

"You must be joking," he said. "Haven't you heard Hitler talk? Haven't you understood the stupidities I translated for you?"

I replied, "But these idiocies are also in the heads of the audience, maddened by hunger and fear. Hitler is promising them a change, economic, political, cultural, and scientific. Well, they want changes, and he may be able to do just what he says, since he has all the capitalist money behind him. With that he can give food to the hungry German workers and persuade them to go over to his side and turn on us. Let me shoot him, at least. I'll take the responsibility. He's still within range."

But this made my German comrades laugh still harder. After laughing himself out, Thaelmann said, "Of course it's best to have someone always ready to liquidate the clown. Don't worry, though. In a few months he'll be finished, and then we'll be in a position to take power."

This only depressed me more, and I reiterated my fears. By now, Muenzenberg wasn't smiling. He had been watching Hitler, then nearly at the other end of the square. He had noticed that the crowd was still applauding. Before leaving the square, Hitler turned and gave the Nazi salute. Instead of boos, the applause swelled. It was clear that Hitler had won many followers among these left-wing workers. Muenzenberg suddenly turned pale and clutched my arm.

Thaelmann looked surprised at both of us. Then he smiled wanly and patted my head. In Russian, which sounded thick in his German accent, he said, "Nitchevo, nitchevo." -- "It's nothing, nothing at all."

My "crazy" artist's imagination was later bitterly substantiated. Both Thaelmann and my friend Muenzenberg were among the millions of human beings put to death by the "clown" we had watched in the square that day.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:31 am


When I left Berlin, it was as one of a large heterogeneous company. Railroad workers, rough and jolly. Miners, silent and strong, looking at the world with eyes accustomed to darkness. Textile workers, quiet, acute, funmakers with unbelievably dextrous fingers. Professional revolutionaries who stayed up to discuss Marxist theory while the rest of us slept. Writers, like the wonderful Theodore Dreiser and Henri Barbusse, were there. The four-foot-tall Moroccan rebel sultan, Abdel Krim, who spoke nearly every language in the world with amusing incoherence. North and South Americans of all ages. Beautiful Czechoslovak working girls, and always at my side, a former shoeshine boy who had been tutored by Lenin himself
-- Willi Muenzenberg.

The morning we arrived in the Moscow terminal, the ground was covered with ice. A high Soviet official, named Peskovsky, was at the station to welcome us. His face shone with friendliness and joy when we came into view. He greeted the Mexican delegation in the Mexican way, embracing each of us in turn.

My friend Guadalupe Rodriguez was dressed in a Mexican charro (cowboy) outfit, topped with a tall black sombrero. Impressed by his colorful manner and appearance, Peskovsky took him under his wing. All of us delegates paraded out of the terminal in a triumphal procession, led by Peskovsky and Rodriguez. The bystanders stared and smiled at Rodriguez.

At the exit we found ourselves at the high end of a long, steep ramp covered entirely by a smooth sheet of ice. Rodriguez stepped ahead, unaware of the hazard. Peskovsky paled and made a warning motion but too late. Without losing his hat, Rodriguez began to travel down the ramp on his posterior, his face calm and immobile. Somehow, he managed to maintain his dignity through all that long slide. At the end of the ramp, a couple of soldiers with blue ribbons in their hats tried to help him up. Motioning them aside, Rodriguez jumped up by himself as agilely as if he were dismounting a horse.

People must have thought this a proper way for a guest from a mythical country to enter Moscow, for they applauded heartily, shouting, "Hooray!"

Peskovsky regained his color then, his face even becoming red with pleasure over this happy ending, and he responded with a loud, "Viva Mexico!" Thanks to the unique way the delegate guest from Mexico had chosen to arrive, international cordiality rose to a new height.

I shall never forget my first sight in Moscow of the organized marching and movement of people. An early morning snow was falling in the streets. The marching mass was dark, compact, rhythmically united, elastic. It had the floating motion of a snake, but it was more awesome than any serpent I could imagine. It flowed slowly from the narrow streets into the open squares without end. At the head of this winding, undulating creature mass was a group in the form of an enormous locomotive. A big red star and five picks were over the "cylinder" of the "boiler." The "headlight" was an enormous inscription between two red flags: THE UNIONS ARE THE LOCOMOTIVES MOVING THE TRAIN OF THE REVOLUTION. THE CORRECT REVOLUTIONARY THEORY IS THE STEEL TRACK.

During the three hours that I withstood the icy winds, watching this procession, I drew many sketches for water colors. About fifty of these were afterwards purchased by Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

One night we delegates were instructed to get up at seven the next morning and assemble at the Central Committee building at a quarter to eight. An important meeting was to begin at eight.

When we appeared next morning at the Central Committee building, we were escorted into an enormous room. From one of its three huge glass windows, I could see the Kremlin in the foreground and the city spreading behind it. Moscow seemed as large as the sea, misty, with the forms of the buildings dissolving into the horizon. The colors were a wonderful scale of grays and browns with some deep, fine greens.

The delegates were seated at one long table, facing another long table at which the officials sat. At the stroke of eight, a door on the officials' side of the room opened. A man, neither tall nor short, stepped in. He gave an impression of tremendous but controlled strength, which seemed to permeate the entire room. He wore warm high boots and a green khaki uniform of coarse quality. The jacket, buttoned up to the neck, was old, the elbows worn down almost to holes, and the wristbands so threadbare that loose threads were plainly visible.

The man himself was dark and warm-colored, like a Mexican peasant. The skin of his face was pitted with smallpox. He had startling, vivid, but small eyes. Thick black mustache ends drooped along each side of his mouth. His hair was cropped short. He had a remarkably rugged physique which suggested great physical power.

He stopped before the officials' table and stood quietly before us; then he put his hands, which had been clenched tightly into fists, into his pockets.

Without any visible sign, everyone suddenly stood up; an eerie silence pervaded the room.

The chairman broke it, "Comrade Stalin," he said, "is going to have the floor.”

We had been asked before to make no display. Nevertheless, three or four people started to applaud. I recall that they were dressed in the black suits of German professors. As soon as we heard them, we could not restrain ourselves from joining in. The applause rose to a resounding ovation.

Stalin leaned toward the center of the table, acknowledged the hand clapping with a slight movement of his head, and placed his right hand on his breast, The moment the ovation was over, he put his hand back in his pocket and said, "I thank you, comrades. I accept your spirited greeting in the name of the revolutionary workers who participated in the October Revolution with successful achievement. I come here in their name and under their mandate. My purpose is to inform you what we have done since the Revolution, what we are doing at present, and what we propose to do next."

Stalin paused, acknowledging a new burst of applause. Making a friendly gesture for his admirers to stop, he continued, "I am going to tell you things that you can easily verify. Should you not approve what I say, I hope you will openly manifest your disapproval with the same spirit you have just displayed."

This drew an approving murmur from his listeners. Stalin's speech, in Russian, ended exactly at nine o'clock. Immediately, tea was brought into the room. Stalin sat down to his glass, drained it, and lit and smoked his pipe while interpreters translated his words into the many languages spoken by the delegates.

The translations took another half hour. Then for the next ten minutes, free, informal discussions went on. At a quarter to ten the chairman rang a bell, and Stalin resumed speaking.

After a few minutes, a magnetic current arose which seemed to fuse the speaker with each member of his audience. Stalin used no oratorical devices. He phrased his words in the tone one uses in informal conversation with friends. Speaking slowly, he pronounced each word with care. Very few of his listeners understood Russian. Yet as I studied the faces around me, I could see in each an urgent desire for communication. Throughout the speech, not a single face showed fatigue or inattention.

When the speech was over, questions were called for. Stalin answered them with a clarity and power of logic the like of which I had only once before encountered, in Jaures. His reasoning, though luminous, was mercilessly straightforward.

The last question asked was, "What do you intend doing if the minority opposition in the Party still persists, thereby violating the Party's final decision?"

The figure of Stalin appeared to grow taller as he gave his detailed answer, concluding with, "We are going to produce all available proofs that our decisions are correct. We will present these proofs to the opposition. If then, they still refuse to return to the general party line, we shall be obliged either to suspend or expel them.

"I do not believe, however, that they will refuse to accept the will of the majority, since we have all the workers on our side. The opposition maintains that the workers oppose us and are discontented. This does not seem correct. You have all seen our workers voluntarily marching in ranks with readied, bayoneted guns and plenty of ammunition. If the workers are against us, why don't they shoot us down when they file past, especially when we are grouped together, as we were recently, when we paid tribute at the tomb of Lenin? We would have made a perfect target on that occasion."

His searching glance encompassed all of us, one after another. "Yes, why did they not shoot us?" he asked again. "Thousands passed before the tribune, and the fire of one well-trained man would have been enough to annihilate us all in a few seconds. Why didn't they, then? Simply because we express their united will. If the opposition, therefore, insists upon disrupting our unity and delivering divided armies to our enemies, we will be forced to turn to the methods of the G.P.U." Saying which, Stalin smashed the table with his fist as if he were actually falling upon the opposition.

A hush followed this outburst. Stalin looked out upon the assembly, as if gauging its reaction, which began with scattered clapping and swelled into another ovation.

Stalin did not now acknowledge the applause but sat down calmly and lit his pipe, awaiting the completion of the translations and the reading of the agenda for the next meetings.

I was sitting directly opposite Stalin. Taking advantage of my position, I began making sketches of his face. He evidently noticed what I was doing. When I put down my pencil, he walked over and asked to see my pencil sketches. He examined all of them, selected one, and wrote on the back of it in blue pencil: "Greetings to the Mexican revolutionaries” and signed "Stalin." As he was inscribing, the chairman declared the meeting over. After Stalin left, we were given the signal to leave the room.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:32 am


At the beginning of my visit to Moscow, I was lodged in the Peasants' House. This building had formerly been an exclusive club of the Moscow magnates, surpassed in prestige only by the Noblemen's Club. Here the biggest landowners of Europe often came to meet the wealthy Russian merchants of wheat, flour, tea, furs, and caviar. It had not been as elegantly appointed as the Noblemen's Club, and its architecture had not been considered high style, but it had boasted an intimate theater in which could be seen the most beautiful naked women in nocturnal Europe. The most luxurious suites had been reserved for the rendezvous of the beauteous artistes and their moneyed admirers. Here the biggest diamonds, emeralds, and rubies in the world had changed ownership.

Billiard tables were still ranged in the salon, which was as huge as a railroad station waiting room. Most of the lavish halls were furnished with their original, old-fashioned Russian-style pieces, interspersed with other pieces in the most baroque and revolting modernism of the turn of the century.

This building, which formerly had served the revels of the upper bourgeoisie, now belonged to the peasants on whom they had fattened. In the burlesque theater and in other large halls, Russian farmers in colorful folk costumes could be seen dancing. They, too, were celebrating the tenth year of the new system in which they had become the owners as well as the workers of the land. The place rang with their healthy exuberance.

Many and varied cultural entertainments went on night and day. At all times, a rich table was set for the peasants, who had come from all corners of the world to meet with their comrades in this exciting land.

Wishing to broaden my acquaintance with the Russian people, I decided to move to a hotel where a large number of other delegates had taken up residence. I remained there for the period of the celebration and a little after.

When the festivals and meetings were over, I was asked by the manager of the hotel whether I intended to go elsewhere or stay on in Moscow. I replied that I might remain indefinitely. I had just received a request from the Commissar of Education to do a mural in the Red Army Club. If the public favored this work, I had been told, I would be allowed to paint the walls of a newly completed institute.

When I explained this to the manager, he declared, "That's fine, comrade. You're no longer a guest but one of our own citizens." Then he shook my hand in congratulation. That was the whole ceremony extended to me in recognition of my acceptance. I appreciated its beauty and simplicity. But I admired all of the social customs in Russia during my visit.

I recall one incident especially well. It occurred during a day in my travels through the countryside. I had just settled down in my train compartment when I saw a young man walk casually over to an attractive young woman in the compartment across from mine. The young man smiled but said not a word. Instead, he unhurriedly took out his health and identity cards and offered them for the girl's inspection. In a minute she was smiling back and offering him her credentials. What an ideal way to choose one's lovers!

A few days later, someone knocked at my hotel door early in the morning. I let in a skinny, gangly, sallow-looking adolescent boy. However, the lad presented himself to me in a manner that was respectful and self-assured. Introducing himself as the chief reporter for Komsomolskaya Pravda, he went on, "Comrade Rivera, we have learned that you're going to stay among us. Will you write an article for us? Our organization is not rich, most of us being students. Here, however, is thirteen hundred rubles for your article. We would like to be the ones to give you your first job in the Soviet Union."

I was touched to have the Communist youth organization do me this honor. At the same time, I was surprised at the extreme youth of the reporter sent to represent his paper. I would have guessed his age at about thirteen. After further discussion, we agreed that I should do not one but a series of ten articles, to be delivered at fifteen-day intervals. I signed a three-line contract to that effect.

As the reporter was stowing away the contract in his briefcase, preparing to go, I asked, "How old are you, comrade? You look very young."

He seemed rather offended at my remark. Raising himself to his full height, he replied, "But not at all, comrade; I am seventeen years already."

I had to restrain myself from laughing, so odd to my Mexican ears seemed the boy’s grown-up pride, and so typical of the new Russia, where youth, too, has its constructive place in society.

As soon as my young friend had left, I sat down to outline the subjects of my future articles. For the next few days, I was busy jotting down notes on Mexico's social situation, which was to be the subject of my opening piece. In the midst of it, I was interrupted by another visitor, a towering, bearded man in high boots and a green uniform. He held a black portfolio under his arm.

In beautiful French, he said, "Comrade Rivera, I'm Engineer So-and-So. I'm extremely interested in your paintings. We have all seen reproductions of your frescoes. I happen to be the director of one of the newest factories in Moscow and a technical labor inspector. In that capacity, I have come to offer you any materials you may need for the murals you're to do in Moscow."

But, alas, I was not to put so much as a dab of paint on any wall in Moscow. The reason is quite simple. Lunacharsky, my host, "requested" me to return to Mexico. I suspect that resentment on the part of certain Soviet artists brought about this unhappy turn.

Leaving Moscow, I had in my pocket a mandate to organize the peasants' and workers' electoral bloc in Mexico. I also carried several sketches for a Ministry of Education fresco, which I intended to complete at home, numerous water colors of the Red Army, cover designs for some Soviet magazines, and three or four sketch books recording my observations of the life of the Soviet people.

Especially impressive among these was one in water colors depicting the May Day celebration. I had done a series portraying a Russian worker and his family from the time they prepared to attend this event until its close, including the march into Red Square. I also took home some finished oils on the October anniversary celebration.
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