5 things to know about international artist Diego Rivera

“Rivera was one of the most aesthetically, socially and politically ambitious artists of the 20th century,” says James Oles, guest curator for Diego Rivera’s America.

Rivera’s vision of Mexico and the United States comes to life at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) Diego Rivera’s America. In anticipation of the new exhibition, SFMOMA reveals five anecdotes to know about the artist and his work.


  1. Rivera’s America. Rivera’s idea of ​​”America” ​​transcended political boundaries. He believed that the United States and Mexico had a similar historical base with a rich indigenous past that had been removed by colonial violence. As a result, he believed the two countries shared a creative force and a revolutionary impulse.
  2. Bay Area influence. San Francisco was especially important to Rivera. It was the first place he painted murals in the United States, and his work had a profound influence on Bay Area artists and muralists.
  3. More than murals. SFMOMA houses more than 70 works by Rivera, one of the largest collections of works by the artist in the world. Diego Rivera’s America will present more than 150 paintings, frescoes and murals by the artist, and emblematic works such as flower holder (1935) will be shown alongside paintings that have not been seen publicly since leaving Rivera’s studio.
  4. Art for social change. Rivera saw art as an essential tool in the struggle for greater equality and social justice. His works depicting work, popular culture and family life underscore his desire to focus on ordinary people as protagonists of national narratives.
  5. Larger than life works. The last mural Rivera painted in the United States is a colossal work measuring 22 feet high by 74 feet wide, painted for the Golden Gate World’s Fair in San Francisco in 1940. The mural, commonly referred to as Pan American Unitis free to see at SFMOMA for all visitors

// DIego Rivera’s America opens at SFMOMA on July 16. Celebrate the opening of this highly anticipated experience with a free community day of merriment, activism and art at SFMOMA on Sunday, July 17. Buy your tickets in advance and save at sfmoma.org.

Diego Rivera, Dance at Tehuantepec, 1928 (detail); Eduardo F. Costantini collection, Buenos Aires; © 2022 Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo: Juan Millas

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