Diego Rivera: Artist of the People

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9780060217846: Diego Rivera: Artist of the People

Text and illustrations trace the great Mexican artist's inspirations, challenges, and defeats and discusses his most important works, which portray the dreams and lives of common people. By the author of Che! Latin America's Legendary Guerrilla Leader.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 8 Up-- Neimark has created a fictionalized hero and, metaphorically speaking, has used only upper-case letters in setting her story in print. From the opening paragraph when the three-year-old Diego takes his red crayon to a white wall, readers are told of his larger-than-life qualities. In the macho-dominated world of turn-of-the-century Mexico he could do no wrong as he was protected from punishment by a doting father. Although there is mention of his exploitation of many women, there is also an overarching sense of approbation. Just as his youthful obnoxious behavior is excused because of his talents, so his obsessive womanizing is later excused because it seemed part of his questing nature always "to explore the unknown." Thus, there are moral undertones to this story of an "evangelist-in-paint." Does an artist's talent really raise him above the ethical standards of the rest of us? Should a biography, even a fictionalized one, focus only on some exaggerated notion of Pied Piperism, without raising issues of his humanity? Neimark fashions an attractive episodic yarn from the anecdotes she fills with Spanish terms and dots with names of artists, patrons, and politicians. Most of the 14 black-and-white and all of the 5 full-color reproductions only hint at the development of Rivera's complex style of mural painting, an approach to representation heavily influenced by Aztec artistry. Of course, the potency of these murals can only be experienced firsthand because their size makes up so much of the visual impact. Perhaps, even in today's cultural environment where the godlike Columbus is exposed as a man with moral warts and wrinkles, it may be too much to expect an author to spotlight her hero's ethical clay feet. --Kenneth Marantz, Art Education Department, Ohio State University, Columbus
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Neimark's fictionalized biography of the Mexican muralist abounds with anecdotal detail attesting to his gargantuan appetites for work, food, women and leftist politics. Ultimately, however, the work amounts to little more than a series of events strung together alternately with strangely unaffecting accounts of Rivera's compassion for peasants and with tiresome references to his bulging, froglike eyes. Abrupt transitions make the story hard to follow--Neimark has Rivera praising his wife, Frida Kahlo, in one sentence and decrying his American patrons' capitalism in the next--and also call attention to the lack of the character analysis that such a complex personality demands. The most revealing index to Rivera's identity as an artist--the work itself--is treated mainly as a political phenomenon. Fourteen black-and-white and four color illustrations are included, along with a list of Rivera's murals in the U.S., a short bibliography and an afterword urging readers to emulate the artist by creating politically expressive murals of their own. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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