Date of Award
The most notorious twentieth-century Mexican artist and politician, Diego Rivera, stepped up to the international pedestal of art in the late 1920s. Recognized for his revival of mural painting and undeniable compositional skill, the middle-aged Rivera was crowned a Michelangelo of modern art by artists, intellectuals, and admirers of the time. When Rivera traveled to the United States to show off his peacock's tail, the American media also participated readily in the servile flattery of the Mexican master. Yet, as was evident in print media, Rivera's art was revered more for its technical ability to depict Mexico and its culture, than for the revolutionary ideas it was trying to portray. In fact, the media manufactured a cultural argumentation about the artist that was blind to Rivera's desire to spread communism on the walls of capitalist buildings. Thus, when "the greatest living master of fresco painting" exposed a turkey's tail instead of a peacock's, the media changed the fawning to vitriol. As a result, Rivera's career in the United States was ephemeral.
Dehesa-Avelar, Sarahí, "Diego Rivera in the United States: "Working from Within the Enemy Camp"" (1998). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 904.
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