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Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957)


Also known as:  Rivera Barrientos, Diego; Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, Diego; Rivera, Diego María Concepcíon Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la

Birth Place: Guanajuato (Guanajuato state, Mexico)


Who was painter Diego Rivera?

Diego Rivera is one of the most famous and influential painters of the twentieth century. His work helped spark the Mexican muralism movement, and his intense marriage to fellow artist Frida Kahlo is one of the most famed couplings ever to happen in the art world. His paintings, murals, sculptures, are known for their raw, unflinching beauty, epic scale, and pride in his Mexican heritage. 

Why was Diego Rivera famous?

His art is notable for being narrative. Rivera was a populist artist, and his work was for the people. There is a clear linkage between the steles of the ancient Mayan world and the work of Rivera. His art was meant to inspire and provoke, in many cases both at the same time. While in his later years his work tailed off, his ten-panel mural at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1940 became an instant hit and, as of 2020, is on display at the SF MoMA. 

What kind of art does Diego Rivera make?

Diego Rivera was primarily a muralist. His large-scale paintings in public spaces were a nod to his ancestral heritage and a way to inspire the common man toward the arts. While he often enjoyed shocking his audiences (including claims of cannibalism in his 1940 autobiography), at his heart Rivera was a populist artist who wanted art for all. While Rivera’s work is now often overshadowed by his relationships with artists (besides multiple marriages to Kahlo, he also was there for the beginning of Pablo Picasso’s experiments that led to cubism), it can’t be overstated that Rivera was a true revolutionary based on his own artistic merit. 

He was a true artist, constantly evolving, taking chances, and challenging his audiences. His pieces run a gamut of styles, color choices, and mediums. One thing is for certain, there is no box large enough to house Diego Rivera. 

How did painter Diego Rivera get started?

Diego Rivera was born in Mexico to wealthy parents, Rivera felt like an outsider from an early age. He stated in interviews that his Jewishness was the defining element of his early life. He studied art at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City starting at the age of ten, then traveled to Europe to study with Eduardo ChiCharro in Madrid. From there, Rivera toured Europe, eventually landing in Paris where he worked for a few years with many ex-pat artists who had founded art colonies and opened galleries there.

It was in Paris where Rivera would be inspired by early cubism painters like Picasso, Braque, and others. Never content, eventually Rivera would move on and embrace the new school art of Cezanne and others. He would carry all of these different aesthetics within him, eventually bringing those styles together in the murals and paintings which would give him his fame. 

How much are Diego Rivera paintings worth?

On the high end, Rivera paintings can sell for a million or more US dollars. Even his lesser works often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The highest price ever paid at auction for a Diego Rivera painting was $9,762,500 for the painting The Rivals (1931). This was more than 2 million higher than even its high estimate. Rivera pieces are widely regarded by critics and the wider art world as having prestige, and as such are considered wise investments for the savvy collector. 

Where to buy Diego Rivera paintings for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Diego Rivera paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.

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