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"Diego Rivera: Art and Revolution"
1999-09-19 until 1999-11-28
Museum of Fine Art, Houston
Houston, TX, USA United States of America

This major retrospective exhibition explores the vast artistic career of Diego Rivera (1886-1957), one of the most productive and influential artists of the 20th century. Rivera fused the innovations of European modernism with the traditions of Mexico's pre-Columbian past and its indigenous peoples. Famous and controversial, not only in his own country but in the United States, Rivera helped to define the terms of the Mexican-American cultural dialogue that continues to this day.

More than 90 paintings and drawings in a variety of media, including paintings rarely or never exhibited in the United States, are being lent by museums and private collectors in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Mexico. The exhibition is presented in four thematic sections: the first two trace Rivera's transformation from an academic painter to his embrace of the international avant garde; the third examines his evolution as a muralist and his maturing vision as a humanist and political artist; the final section surveys Rivera's artistic innovations in easel painting, watercolors, and drawings during the last thirty-four years of his life.

Diego Rivera: Art and Revolution was organized by the Consejo Nacional para las Cultura y las Artes through the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA, Mexico), and the Cleveland Museum of Art, in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council. AT&T is the corporate sponsor of the exhibition's Americas tour. Diego Rivera: Art and Revolution grew out of long-term alliances between the Mexican government and the State of Ohio, particularly the Ohio Arts Council. The involvement of INBA, holder of the world's most extensive and significant Rivera collections, is critical to the exhibition's success. This retrospective is distinguished by its combined Mexican and American curatorial perspectives and by the inclusion of several paintings and drawings that are seldom seen outside Mexico.

The exhibition is co-curated by William H. Robinson, Cleveland Museum of Art's associate curator for paintings, and Agustn Arteaga, INBA's former national coordinator and director of the Museum of the Palace of Fine Arts, and Luis-Martin Lozano, professor of art history at Iberoamerican University, Mexico City. Presentation of the exhibition in Houston is coordinated by Alison de Lima Greene, curator of twentieth-century art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

It is particularly exciting to bring this retrospective of Diego Rivera to Houston in light of our earlier presentations of Mexican art, said Alison de Lima Greene, curator of twentieth-century art at the MFAH. We have been able to profile two of his contemporaries -- Frida Kahlo (who was also Rivera's wife and muse) and David Alfaro Siqueiros -- in recent exhibitions. Diego Rivera: Art and Revolution enlarges our understanding of the currents that shaped the Mexican Renaissance, and gives us a unique opportunity to study one of the great geniuses of modern painting.

The exhibition includes Rivera's signature masterpieces, such as Flower Day of 1925, which won the purchase prize at the 1925 Pan-American exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. These familiar paintings are joined by works that surfaced in the course of research and through INBA's work in registering all Rivera works under laws of national patrimony, a role that has provided INBA unparalleled access to information about Rivera's art in public and private collections, as well as to related archives and documents.

This exhibition is presented in four thematic sections: the first two -- Rivera's Formative Years and Radical Political and Artistic Transformations -- trace Rivera's transformation from an academic painter to his embrace of the international avant garde. The third section, Art for the Masses, examines his maturing vision as a humanist and political artist; and the final section, Visions of Mexico and World Harmony, surveys Rivera's artistic innovations in easel painting, watercolors, and drawings during the last three decades of his life.


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