26 Famous Diego Rivera Quotes
Diego Rivera Quotes

Publication: Mar 10, 2022

Inside: A collection of Diego Rivera quotes in English.

Post image source.

Diego Rivera is among the greatest painters of the 20th century, renowned for his frescoes and murals. He is also famous for his marriage to artist Frida Kahlo and the political views that inspired his work.

“Rivera stood out as one of the best-known proponents of Mexican Muralism, a state-sponsored movement aimed at extolling the nation’s history, culture, and post-Revolutionary ideals in large-scale murals for public spaces.

Using a centuries-old fresco technique, Rivera created sweeping mural cycles that drew upon modernist painting styles to render heroic visions of Mexico’s past and present that captured the attention of critics and onlookers internationally.”

‘- Museum of Modern Art
Image Source

Related: Famous Latinos & Hispanic Americans

Diego Rivera was born December 8, 1886, in Mexico. He began painting as a child, later studying in both Mexico in Europe. Rivera’s early work was influenced by Cubism. He later began to explore Renaissance frescoes, which inspired much of his work.

Rivera’s work depict the “common man,” connection to nature, history, and his Marxist ideals. He was commissioned to works in Mexico and across the United States.

He died November 24, 1957, and is still celebrated today. These Diego Rivera quotes helps us get a look into his own perspective.

Detroit Industry – Image Source

Top Diego Rivera Quotes in English

Related: 25 Frida Kahlo Quotes

1. “I know now that he who hopes to be universal in his art must plant in his own soil . . . The secret of my best work is that it is Mexican.”

– Diego Rivera

2. “As an artist I have always tried to be faithful to my vision of life, and I have frequently been in conflict with those who wanted me to paint not what I saw but what they wished me to see.” 

– Diego Rivera

3. “Only the work of art itself can raise the standard of taste.”

– Diego Rivera

4. “An artist is above all a human being, profoundly human to the core. If the artist can’t feel everything that humanity feels, if the artist isn’t
capable of loving until he forgets himself and sacrifices himself if necessary, if he won’t put down his magic brush and head the fight
against the oppressor, then he isn’t a great artist.”

.– Diego Rivero

5. “Thanks to the Revolution, the people regained their own language and spoke through the receptors that were capable of capturing, condensing, and re-transmitting the popular voice.”

– Diego Rivera

6. ““I know now that he who hopes to be universal in his art must plant in his own soil. Great art is like a tree, which grows in a particular place and has a trunk, leaves, blossoms, boughs, fruit, and roots of its own. The more native art is, the more it belongs to the entire world, because taste is rooted in nature. When art is true, it is one with nature. This is the secret of primitive art and also of the art of the mastersMichelangelo, Czanne, Seurat, and Renoir. 

– Diego Rivera

7. “That’s the great value of children’s paintings, which we could well call therapeutic for adult artists, and not just for them, but for all human beings whose historic-social consciousnesses have clouded their initial perceptive and conceptual faculties… The pure, high aesthetic emotion that children’s art is apt to produce is an integral component for the hygiene we suggest.”

– Diego Rivera

8. “Looking back upon my work today, I think the best I have done grew out of things deeply felt, the worst from a pride in mere talent.”

– Diego Rivera

9. “Painting is an essential function of human life. Wherever human beings live, painting has existed and exists. Painting is a language, as with words.”

– Diego Rivera

10. “An artist is above all a human being, profoundly human to the core. If the artist can’t feel everything that humanity feels, if the artist isn’t capable of loving until he forgets himself and sacrifices himself if necessary, if he won’t put down his magic brush and head the fight against the oppressor, then he isn’t a great artist.”

– Diego Rivera

11. “In the pre-Hispanic world everything in the life of the people was artistic, from the palaces and temples which are monumental works of sculpture, with their magnificent frescoes that amaze everyone peering at them in the jungle, down to the most humble pot used daily, and the children’s toys, and the stone to grind grain. Everything was a work of art, ninety-nine percent of the time, a masterpiece.”

– Diego Rivera

12. “Art is like ham-it nourishes people.”

Diego Rivera

13. “I knew how one climbing the mountain of worldly success can slip down into the river below without being conscious of the descent till he is already drowning.” 

– Diego Rivera

14. “The artist must try to raise the level of taste of the masses, not debase himself to the level of unformed and impoverished taste.”

– Diego Rivera

15. “I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis. I am not an enemy of the Catholics, as I am not an enemy of the tuberculars, the myopic or the paralytics; you cannot be an eney of the sick, only their good friend in order to help them cure themselves.”

– Diego Rivera

16. “”The true novelty of Mexican painting, which I initiated in 1922-23 at the Secretary of Public Education, along with Siqueiros and Orozco in the National Preparatory School, was to make the people the heroes of mural painting; it consisted in representing the poor farmer and the industrial worker fighting to obtain land.”

– Diego Rivera

17. “Every good composition is above all a work of abstraction. All good painters know this. But the painter cannot dispense with subjects altogether without his work suffering impoverishment.”

– Diego Rivera

18. “As the old world would soon blow itself apart [in World War I], never to be the same again, so Cubism broke down forms as they had been for centuries, and was creating out of the fragments new forms, new objects, new patterns and – ultimately – new worlds.” 

– Diego Rivera

19. “From sunrise to sunset, I was in the forest, sometimes far from the house, with my goat who watched me as a mother does a child. All the animals in the forest became my friends, even dangerous and poisonous ones. Thanks to my goat-mother and my Indian nurse, I have always enjoyed the trust of animals–a precious gift. I still love animals infinitely more than human beings.”

– Diego Rivera

20. “To be an artist, one must… never shirk from the truth as he understands it, never withdraw with life.”

– Diego Rivera

Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park , 1947- Image Source

Diego Rivera And Frida Kahlo

Many people are fascinated by the admittedly tumultuous relationship between Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The two married in 1929, divorced in 1939, and remarried in 1940.

It was an odd match in many ways, even just physically: Rivera was over six feet tall and more than 300 pounds, while Kahlo was only 5 feet 3 inches, less than 100 pounds. She was also 21 years younger than him. Her parents described it as a “marriage between an elephant and a dove.”

The quotes below showcase their shared passion, but also the pain that occurred between them.

Kahlo was not the only one to experience this, as Rivera was married numerous times. He said of an earlier marriage, “She gave me everything a woman can give to a man. In return, she received from me all the heartache and misery that a man can inflict upon a woman.”

Let’s take a look at Frida Kahlo through Diego Rivera’s eyes and own words.

Diego and Frida – Image Source

1. “I recommend her to you, not as a husband but as an enthusiastic admirer of her work, acid and tender, hard as steel and delicate and fine as a butterfly’s wing, lovable as a beautiful smile, and as profound and cruel as the bitterness of life.” 

– Diego Rivera

2. “Never before had a woman put such agonizing poetry on canvas as Frida did.”

– Diego Rivera

3. “I did not know it then, but Frida had already become the most important fact in my life. And would continue to be, up to the moment she died, 27 years later.” 

– Diego Rivera

4. “Frida Kahlo [is] the purest and most deeply Mexican while being extremely modern in her manner.”

– Diego Rivera

5. “If I ever loved a woman, the more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her. Frida was only the most obvious victim of this disgusting trait.”

– Diego Rivera

6. “July 13, 1954 was the most tragic day of my life. I had lost my beloved Frida forever. To late now I realized that the most wonderful part of my life had been my love for Frida.”

Diego Rivera

The Kiss – Image Source

I hope these Diego Rivera quotes and resources were helpful to you! If you have more ideas for resources or lessons, let me know in the comments below!

Image Credits:

Post Image: “Self-Portrait by Diego Rivera-1941” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by mary holman

Image 2: “evocar-diego-rivera-1230292” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by ignaciotaz

Image 3: “Detail of Diego Rivera Mural – Dream of” (CC BY 2.0) by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive

Image 4: “Diego and Frida” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Thomas Hawk

Image 5: “The Kiss…” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by MyEyeSees

Image 6: “Detroit Industry” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Thomas Hawk

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Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising three bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best-of-the-best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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