Diego Rivera’s works that you can visit in Mexico City

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Diego Rivera's murals inside the National Palace.
Diego Rivera’s murals inside the National Palace.Jeff Greenberg (Getty Images)

Diego Rivera is one of the most important Mexican artists. Enemy of Picasso and Siqueiros, ally of León Trotsky, student of Dr. Atl and José María Velasco, and champion of the policies of José Vasconcelos, this artist from Guanajuato left a prolific heritage in Mexico City. Some of his most famous works still stand and you can visit them in the center and south of the city.

Cárcamo de Dolores in the second section of Chapultepec

This enclosure represented a great challenge for Diego Rivera, since by having underwater murals, the painter had to substitute traditional techniques and change them for the use, for example, of synthetic materials.

Inspired by Aleksandr Oparin’s theory of the origin of life, Diego Rivera creates his work entitled Water, the origin of life on Earth, which is made up of the fundamental species for human evolution. Representative organisms, plants and mammals are observed, such as the first being with eyes called the trilobite, the cooksonia (one of the first terrestrial plants), and the human being represented by a man and a woman emanating from the water.

On the walls, some hands lie just above the tunnel through which the hydraulic network of the Lerma River would circulate, and next to it, Rivera interpreted its relationship with science, technology and art; It also gave representation to the team that worked in the carcamo.

The Tláloc sculpture on the esplanade is also by Diego Rivera. It was designed horizontally so that planes arriving in the capital could appreciate the Mexica god of rain.

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This space was intervened by the artist Ariel Guizk, who with a sound piece called The lambdoma chamber makes the air and the rain resonate in the gully to fill the void left by the water with sound.

Painting and sculpture by Diego Rivera in the Cárcamo de Dolores, in the Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City.
Painting and sculpture by Diego Rivera in the Cárcamo de Dolores, in the Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City.GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO

Secretary of Public Education

Headed by José Vasconcelos, the Ministry of Public Education had a large budget for the dissemination of education, culture and science. Its headquarters in the Convent of Santa María de la Encarnación del Divino Verbo, located in the Historic Center of Mexico City, also represented a space for all attendees to appreciate art. In this way, muralists such as Jean Charlot, Amado de la Cueva, Roberto Montenegro and Diego Rivera made murals in the enclosure.

Rivera was the one who did the largest number of works distributed in two patios known as the Patio del trabajo and the Patio de las fiestas. In the first one he represented, along two levels, different tasks, both intellectual, artistic and of national heroes. Scenes about fertility and the transformation of the human being are also observed. The second patio was destined to represent national celebrations. On two floors it showed the states and scenes of social struggle.

Among the works that stand out in the Patio del trabajo are the Mine exit in which he paints a crucified miner and represents the mistreatment to which they were subjected; Hug in which a peasant and a worker represent the working class and The rural teacher with a woman who stars in the importance of knowledge in the field. In the Patio de las fiestas, works such as Day of the Dead, whose celebration is one of the most important traditions in Mexico and The Santa Anita canal which portrays the celebration of Holy Week in the channels of Tláhuac and Xochimilco; his work is also in this courtyard The run, whose importance lies in being considered a manifesto of the painter with pillars such as literacy, community and workers’ struggle.

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Epic of the Mexican people in the National Palace

A journey through the history of Mexico on the walls of the National Palace. Diego Rivera painted passages ranging from pre-Hispanic to modern times and it took him 20 years to complete his work. In his mural scenes such as the rise of the Toltec culture, the myth of the arrival of Quetzalcóatl, the fall of Tenochtitlán, the times of the Holy Inquisition, the independence struggle and the Mexican Revolution are observed.

In addition, his painting shows us some of the central characters of national and international life. Among them, Emiliano Zapata, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, José Guadalupe Posada, Carlos Marx, and Frida Kahlo stand out. The mural has an area of ​​276 square meters.

Dream of a Sunday afternoon in Alameda Central

This work that now remains in the Diego Rivera Mural Museum, just behind the Alameda Central, was part of the Versalles dining room of the Hotel del Prado and later, its lobby. During the 1985 earthquake, the hotel suffered irreparable damage and with a monumental effort, the painting was moved to the parking lot of the also demolished Hotel Regis. Later the museum was built on it, which was inaugurated in 1988.

In his mural Rivera makes a historical journey from left to right and shows moments such as the fall of Tenochtitlán, the independence of Mexico and foreign interventions. The characters that appear in the central part of the mural stand out. Holding hands, in the foreground are an infantilized self-portrait of the author, La Catrina and José Guadalupe Posada. Behind Diego Rivera, the also painter Frida Kahlo who holds a Ying Yang with her left hand and next to him the poet José Martí. The painting also shows the painter’s daughters and another self-portrait of the author as a child eating a cake. According to Rivera, “the characters on the walk all dream, some sleeping on the benches and others, walking and talking.”

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The mural
The mural “Dream of a Sunday afternoon in the Alameda Central” painted with the help of the artists Rina Lazo and Pedro A. Peñaloza.INBA

University City

Diego Rivera made this mural in the University Olympic Stadium. Titled The university, family and sports in Mexico, the work is made with colored stones and is located in the eastern part of the stadium. Despite being unfinished, this piece shows the most important symbols of the National Autonomous University of Mexico; the eagle and the condor, the athletes who light the Olympic torches, the family, a dove as a symbol of peace and below them, a feathered serpent encrusted with ears of corn representing Quetzalcoatl.

The painter wanted the four walls of the stadium to be covered with his mural; however, he died before completing his work.

Palace of Fine Arts

In the Palacio de Bellas Artes there are a total of 17 murals by various Mexican artists, including David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Manuel Rodríguez Lozano and Diego Rivera. The latter created The controlling man of the universe. The first idea for this work was captured at the Rockefeller Center in New York; however, it was destroyed. Then-President Abelardo L. Rodríguez asked Rivera to make a replica of the mural for the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Rivera captured, in the same way as the first time, a blond man on a control panel that, according to the National Institute of Fine Arts, manages the forces of the natural and mechanical worlds, and divides the socialist system with squads. riot gear.

There are also the murals Russian Revolution and Carnival of Mexican life. In the first of them Leon Trotsky and Lenin appear together with the Red Army. The second mural is inspired by the carnival of Huejotzingo, Puebla and its four panels have representations such as the Spanish conquest and the bandit Agustín Lorenzo, who led the robberies of Río Frío and faced the French troops in the battle of May 5.

'The Man Controller of the Universe' (1934), by Diego Rivera, an altered copy of the mural destroyed by Rockefeller, in the Palacio de Bellas Artes de México.
‘The Man Controller of the Universe’ (1934), by Diego Rivera, an altered copy of the mural destroyed by Rockefeller, in the Palacio de Bellas Artes de México.Palace of Fine Arts

San Ildefonso

The creation It was Diego Rivera’s first mural. Held at the Simón Bolívar Amphitheater, this play has characters such as the actresses Dolores del Río and Guadalupe Rivas Cacho; his then wife Guadalupe Marín; the painter Nahui Olin; the writers Palma Guillén and Luz Jiménez; and Julieta Crespo de la Serna.

The painting shows, in the central part, the original cell from which the human being arises who is represented with open arms. A blue semicircle shows energy that is directed in three directions. On the right side are the fables represented by erotic poetry (Olin), tradition (Jiménez), and the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, strength and continence.

On the left are music in sheep’s clothing; the song (represented by Lupe Marín); and comedy (Guadalupe Rivas). In addition, the three theological virtues are observed: charity, hope and faith. At the top, sitting on the clouds, are science and wisdom represented by Palma Guillén and Luz Jiménez respectively.

Anahuacalli Museum

Diego Rivera thought of the Anahuacalli as a habitable artistic enclosure that was also a space to store his pre-Hispanic figurines, of which he had a large collection. He planned to make a city of the arts in which painting, dance, music, theater and the ecological reserve that surrounds this construction converge.

For its construction the artist used the volcanic stone of the Xitle volcano and after his death, the project was maintained. In charge of his daughter Ruth Rivera and the artist Juan O’Gorman, six years after the muralist’s death the piece was completed, which simulates a teocalli or house of the gods.

In this space you can see 16 sketches of various Rivera murals and two thousand pre-Hispanic figures.

Inside the Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum, the museum houses one of the world's largest collections of pre-Hispanic art.
Inside the Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum, the museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of pre-Hispanic art.seila montes

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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