Diego Rivera lived in Europe and worked with famous modernist artists, while he studied the art of the European Cubists. He combined this with his native Mexican style and there are influences of Mayan and Aztec art as well. All this combined gave him a unique style of his own.
When Rivera returned home from his travels in Europe in 1921, he began painting indigenous Mexican people. Inspired by faces in the crowds, the workers, ordinary people in festivals, he began to concentrate on portraying them.
This celebration of Mexican people shines through this beautiful Art Deco painting from 1925. Diego Rivera had a great sympathy for the common people and peasants. This shone through his paintings. His art at the time provoked much admiration from his contemporaries.
This painting depicts a flower festival held on Good Friday in a town called Santa Anita.
It features a man with a basket of calla lilies bending down before two girls. The form is Cubist and rather simplistic using vibrant colours.
The flower seller is wearing the colours of the Mexican flag: red, white, and green, so maybe it was meant to have a patriotic meaning.
Calla lilies feature in lots of his paintings, perhaps because they resemble a sombrero? They have an almost religious revered feel in this painting. Possible conveying the religious aspect of Good Friday. The rapt attention of the girls and the stillness of the child add to this aura of reverence. There is a series of paintings in which flowers are the central aspect. The Nude with Cala Lilies appears to embrace the flowers, in awe of their beauty. The juxtaposition of female nudity against the pristine chasteness of the virginal flowers is interesting.
In The Flower Carrier the man has buckled under the weight of the flower basket. Flowers are portrayed as almost symbolic signs of majesty and pristine beauty.
Rivera did much to raise international awareness for Mexican culture and appreciation of its history. He and his wife Frieda Kahlo went through the changes created by the Mexican Revolution, enjoying freedom of the oppression by the dictatorial government.
Media: oil on canvas
Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, California, US
Dimensions: 147.3 x 120.7 cm
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
It was included in an exhibition of Rivera's work at MoMA in 1931.