Carnival of Mexican Life, Dictatorship Diego Rivera Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This memorable artwork was titled Carnival of Mexican Life. Dictatorship, and was part of a series of murals produced by Diego Rivera in around 1936. He regularly received commissions for work in Mexico from major institutions.

There is no shortage of content within this tall but narrow artwork, with the Dictator mentioned in the title represented by the large figure at the top of the painting. He has a flag waved behind him by a figure in shadow. There is then some architecture in the background which is typical of a festival or event, where tent-like structures are put up very quickly, similar to a circus. The dictator sports a tight black hat and uneven teeth, with his face angled in a manner which makes us feel uncomfortable and untrusting of him. Further below are a whole assortment of different figures which Rivera uses to represents other elements of society, all milling around in chaos, whilst the dictator overlooks from a great height. Rivera was politically active and his loyalties always lie with the common man, leading to many artworks being devoted to the working poor and also other social themes.

Rivera would be famous for his large scale murals but also for a strong devotion to socialist values. This made him ideal for institutions who wanted art within their premises which could dominate a wall and speak to its viewers. Money could always seem to be found for his services, and Rivera was so popular by all sections of society that no-one would complain when he continued to promote the more positive elements of Mexican culture, of which they themselves were also proud. He would then take some of these ideas abroad, though some in the US disapproved of his political stance, bringing some projects into controversy, though his strong relationships with notable figures in the arts could help him to defend himself.

This painting can now be found in the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico. The palace itself is a suitably stunning location, entirely fitting for the outstanding collection of art and antiquities which can be found within the building. They hold a good number of murals within this building, which takes advantage of some of the large walls found within this building which dates from the very early 20th century. El hombre controlador del universo from 1934 is one of the most notable pieces to be found here and clearly Rivera built up a strong relationship with the palace which resulted in a number of his murals becoming installed here. It remains one of the best places anywhere in the world from which to enjoy and understand more about the career of Rivera and they also offer many artworks by other notable artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo and José Clemente Orozco.