USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

Diego Rivera in Europe

Diego Rivera was born in 1886. He studied art in Mexico City. In 1909, Rivera went to Paris, where he became friends with artists like Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani. Such a group of friends points to the incredible ability of Paris to attract artists from around Europe and the world in the years leading up to and following the First World War. Picasso was from southern Spain and had lived in both Barcelona and Madrid, but Paris would be his artist center during his long and protean life as an artist. Modigliani was from Livorno, Italy, the son of Sephardic Jews. His family had been successful in business only to fall into bankruptcy during the financial downturn of the 1880s. Modigliani studied throughout Italy, in Rome, Florence, and Venice before moving in Paris in 1906. This intersection of Rivera, Picasso and Modigliani is just one example of thousands of such cross-cultural pollinations that was happening in Paris during these years. One can only imagine the intensity of the intellectual and creative energy coursing through the city, constantly shaping and reshaping visual arts, literature, philosophy, and politics. As a recent exhibition at LACMA demonstrates, the affinities between Rivera and Picasso went well beyond formalism and encompassed important thematic concerns. See this short video for more.

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