Name at birth: José Diego Rivera Barrientos
Diego Rivera is the Mexican artist best known for his expansive and politically-charged murals, and for his love affair with artist Frida Kahlo. Diego Rivera studied painting in Mexico before going to Europe in 1907. While in Europe he took up cubism and had exhibitions in Paris and Madrid in 1913; he then had a show in New York City in 1916. In 1921 he returned to Mexico, where he undertook government-sponsored murals that reflected his communist politics in historical contexts. He married Frida Kahlo in 1929, and their tempestuous marriage got to be just as famous as their art. Rivera worked in the United States and Mexico in the 1930s and '40s, and many of his paintings drew controversy. His 1933 mural for the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan featured a portrait of Communist Party leader V.I. Lenin; the resulting uproar led to his dismissal and to the mural's official destruction in 1934. Similarly, a 1948 mural for the Hotel de Prado in Mexico that included the words "God does not exist" was covered and held from public view for nine years. Even so, Diego Rivera's talent for historical murals and his tributes to earthy folk traditions made him one of the most influential artists in the Americas and one of Mexico's most beloved painters.
One of his most famous works is a tribute to workers in Detroit, Michigan, commissioned in 1932 by Henry Ford… Diego Rivera was born a twin, but his brother, Carlos María, died before he turned two… Never very faithful romantically, Diego Rivera was married four times to three different women: to Guadalupe Marin (1922-27), to Kahlo (1929-39, then again from 1940 until her death in 1954), and to art dealer Emma Hurtado (from 1955 until his death in 1957). He also lived with the artist Angelina Beloff for many years in Paris, and she is sometimes counted among his spouses as a common-law wife… Diego Rivera was honored with a Google Doodle on December 8th, 2011 — the 125th anniversary of his birth.