Segments in this Video

Diego Rivera Introduction (01:05)


In this film, the words of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and others are adapted from their writings. Hear Rivera's response to political controversy over his work.

Early Childhood (01:58)

Rivera was born in Guanajuato in 1886. When his twin brother died, his parents indulged his drawing talent. Hear embellished stories about his upbringing.

European Years (01:36)

Rivera's family moved to Mexico City. He attended classical art school before traveling to Madrid and Paris, where he furthered his education.

Entering the Parisian Art World (00:54)

Rivera lived with Russian painter Angelina Beloff, who introduced him to artists and intellectuals, including Ilya Ehrenburg.

"Zapatista Landscape" (01:51)

In 1913, Rivera joined the Cubist Movement in Paris. He was inspired by the Mexican Revolution and vowed to bring art to public places after the war.

Return go Mexico (01:11)

Rivera was inspired by light, people, and landscapes in his home country.

Revolutionary Art (00:56)

Rivera joined an artist's union and the Communist Party. They rediscovered pre-Columbian sculpture and began painting government supported folk murals.

Ministry of Education Mural (02:11)

Rivera married Lupe Marin while working on his first mural. In 1923, he began a series of frescoes of peasants and workers on a government building—a revolutionary act.

Creative Process (02:18)

Rivera developed his artistic vision through subject matter. View Ministry of Education murals and hear about his working style.

"Ballad of the Revolution" (01:32)

View Rivera's political frescoes in the Ministry of Education. He united popular culture and radical social commentary in his murals.

Chapingo Mural (02:03)

View Rivera's National School of Agricultural frescoes depicting industrial workers, peasants, and Zapata laid to rest.

Diego and Frida (01:15)

Hear how Rivera and Frida Kahlo met. They were married in 1929.

Political Activism (01:09)

Rivera joined the anti-Imperialist league. He was expelled from the Communist Party after accepting a Presidential Palace commission.

Cortez Palace Mural (01:30)

A U.S. ambassador commissioned Rivera to paint the Cuernavaca building. He researched the Spanish conquest for authentic details.

"Allegory of California" (01:12)

Rivera and Kahlo explored San Francisco for the Pacific Stock Exchange mural. It emphasized the labor involved in producing the state's wealth.

San Francisco Art Institute Mural (01:08)

Rivera and Kahlo experienced marital tension. View his painting depicting the artist as a worker, builder, and craftsman.

"Frozen Assets" (01:48)

U.S. patrons discouraged Rivera's radical politics by holding an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. View his controversial work of New York during the Depression.

Detroit Institute of Art Mural (01:16)

Rivera focused on the Ford plant as a symbol of the industrial age.

Frida's Suffering (01:15)

As Rivera worked on his Detroit mural, Kahlo painted her experience having a miscarriage.

"Detroit Industry" Controversy (03:41)

Hear Kahlo's description of Rivera's work patterns. View his Detroit Institute of Art mural that drew religious and political criticism.

"Man at the Crossroads" (03:04)

Learn about commission negotiations for the Rockefeller Center. Rivera maintained his patrons knew about his Communist leanings.

Rockefeller Center Censorship (02:51)

Rivera refused to remove Lenin's portrait from his mural. He was ordered off the premises and the work was covered: hear E.B. White's poem "I Paint what I See."

Artistic Defeat (01:14)

After the Rockefeller controversy, Rivera's Chicago World's Fair commission was canceled. He returned to Mexico.

"Man, Controller of the Universe" (02:08)

Rivera reconstructed the Rockefeller Center mural In Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts.

Hosting an Exile (01:14)

View footage of Leon Trotsky in Mexico. After staying with Kahlo and Rivera for two years, he moved out over political differences.

Frida's Fame (01:27)

Andre Breton arranged a Paris exhibition for Kahlo in 1938. Rivera's infidelity strained their marriage; they divorced in 1939.

"Pan American Unity" (02:23)

Rivera was suspected in Trotsky's 1940 assassination attempt. He traveled to San Francisco to paint at the Golden Gate Exposition. His attitude had softened towards Americans.

Reconciliation (01:29)

Despite his infidelity, Rivera loved Kahlo. They remarried in San Francisco in 1940 and returned to Mexico.

"Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park" (04:47)

Hear Rivera's thoughts on happiness and inspiration. In 1947, he was commissioned to paint a mural at the Hotel del Prado. He later removed controversial religious elements.

Anahuacalli Museum (00:58)

Rivera was fascinated by ancient Mexico. He constructed a museum to house his murals and pre-Columbian artifacts.

Diego and Frida's Final Years (02:34)

Hear Kahlo's description of her relationship with Rivera. She died in 1954 and he lived until 1957; their final paintings both depicted watermelons.

Credits: Diego Rivera: I Paint What I See (01:22)

Credits: Diego Rivera: I Paint What I See

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Diego Rivera: I Paint What I See

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This program traces the life of famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera from childhood through his Cubist period, his leading role in the Mexican mural renaissance, his fame as a muralist in the USA, and his later years. The film explores Rivera's life and work, including his stormy relationship with Frida Kahlo and the destruction of his famous mural at Rockefeller Center. Shot on location in Mexico and the United States, the film includes a remarkable collection of archival film and photographs, much of which has not been seen before. The text is drawn from the writings of Rivera and Kahlo and from other historical texts. Using Rivera's own words, this richly detailed film brings to life the difficulty he faced in his transition from studio artist to public and political artist, and the conflicts that arose from that point onward.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL60612

ISBN: 978-1-60057-618-8

Copyright date: ©1998

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Gold Plaque, Chicago International Film Festival, 1990 CINE Golden Eagle, 1990 Jury Prize, 2nd International Biennial of Films on Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris Jury Prize, UNESCO Festival of Films on Art, Paris, 1991 Bronze Apple, National Educational Film & Video Festival Certificate of Merit, Cork Film Festival, Ireland, 1991

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