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Although Mexican artist Diego Rivera is well known today for his tumultuous marriage to fellow artist and pop culture icon Frida Kahlo, his artistic genius should not be overshadowed. Rivera remains one of the greatest muralists of all time. And the best place in the world to see his greatest works is Mexico City. The epic size of Rivera’s murals and the painstaking detail with which they were rendered will have you squinting in concentration, trying to tease stories from his multifaceted works. His wall-sized murals contain many themes, all competing against each other for attention. Rivera painted in the fresco style. His more restrained murals depict the daily life of indigenous people in Mexico, such as his renderings of women selling white calla lilies in the marketplace. Rivera lived from 1886 to 1957, witnessing the Mexican Revolution as a young man. He was a Communist, so political themes and workers rights figure prominently into his works. He also inserted his beloved Frida into several of his great murals. Searching for Rivera’s best murals in Mexico City can feel a bit like a treasure hunt. The four locations below feature some of his most famous pieces. They are all conveniently located within walking distance of each other in the city’s Centro Historico, or Historic Center. With lots of walking, you can see them all in one day! (1) Palacio Nacional (Plaza de la Con- A huge mural by Rivera can be found right off the national palace’s courtyard, facing you as you walk up the stairs. Painted between 1929 and 1935, the mural tells the history of Mexico, and wraps around the wall. Front and center is an eagle grasping a serpent, just like the central emblem in the Mexican flag. The eagle stands on an Aztec calendar stone. Above, men grasp a banner that reads Tierra y Libertad, land and liberty — the slogan of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata. Zapata and other revolutionary leaders are pictured in the mural. Once you come up the stairs, you will see murals depicting indigenous life in Mexico prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. A striking young woman carrying calla lilies on her back appears in the first mural to the left after ascending the stairs. Disconcertingly, a man standing next to her holds a severed arm. Rivera’s murals cover two levels of the interior courtyard of the Mexican government’s public education ministry. As with the palace, because this is a government office, you will be asked to leave your picture ID at the door. The open courtyard is filled with a garden at its center, creating a very tranquil setting to wander and appreciate the frescoes by Rivera covering the walls that border the courtyard. The first level includes murals that depict life in different regions of Mexico. The murals reflect popular and religious traditions, as well as the lives of laborers and agricultural workers. Workers are constantly restoring the fading murals. According to the Education Ministry, the murals have been going through a conservation program since 1990. Rivera painted the murals between 1923 and 1928. This small museum is built primarily to house one of the Rivera’s most famous murals, pictured below: “Dream of a Sunday afternoon in Alameda Central Park,” painted in 1947. The museum provides a chart that helps the viewer understand who each of the multitude of figures in the painting represent. If you want to take a photo, you must pay a small fee of a few pesos. The panel that attracts the most attention is of four famous figures: from the left, there is Rivera as a young man with Kahlo standing behind him. Then there is the elegantly dressed skeleton (La Catrina) and the famous Mexican artist and printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada at the far right, holding a cane. Posada prominently featured La Catrina in his own prints, beginning in 1910. He used the image to mock the upper classes. 15

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