Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents Diego Rivera’s America, the first major exhibition focused solely on the Mexican artist in over 20 years, on view March 11 – July 31, 2023.
One of the most significant artists of the twentieth century, Rivera told the story of everyday experience in epic murals and individual paintings. The exhibition provides a critical and contemporary interpretation of Diego Rivera’s work, whether done on the wall or the easel.
Diego Rivera’s America examines the artist’s production through more than 130 works, including his drawings, easel paintings, frescoes, and more. The rare presentation reveals the broad range of Rivera’s creativity through a series of thematic sections that bring together more works from this period than have been seen together since the artist’s lifetime.
Diego Rivera’s America is co-organized by Crystal Bridges and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is curated by James Oles, guest curator, with Maria Castro, assistant curator at SFMOMA, and coordinated at Crystal Bridges by Jen Padgett, the museum’s Acting Windgate Curator of Craft. Crystal Bridges is the second and final stop for the exhibition, the only remaining opportunity for visitors to experience Rivera’s broad and expansive vision of America.
“In the exhibition, scenes of everyday life and labor Rivera created in his home country reveal his commitment to reflecting and shaping Mexican national identity. But Rivera had an international presence and audience, along with an especially deep interest in the ties between Mexico and the United States,” Padgett said.
“He was an extraordinary visual storyteller, and his pictures have captivated global audiences for decades.”
In his public murals and paintings, Diego Rivera painted human experience—families and workers, struggles and celebrations, histories and imagined futures.
Between the early 1920s and the early 1940s, he worked in both Mexico and the United States and found inspiration in the social and cultural life of the two countries. He imagined an America—broadly understood—that shared an Indigenous past and an industrial future, and where cooperation, rather than divisions, were paramount.
The 25-year time-frame covered by the exhibition coincides with a fraught historical period: the search for stability and unity in the wake of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), the economic collapse of the Great Depression, the international rise of fascism, and the Second World War. In the context of these global events, Rivera forged a twentieth-century vision of both Mexico and the US, informed by his travels back and forth across the border.
“Rivera believed in the power of art to change the world, a sentiment that is more relevant today than ever,” Oles said.
“This exhibition uses the power of art to explore themes that bring people together across generations, cultures and social classes.”
A century has passed since Rivera embarked upon his career as a muralist. Although US-Mexico relations over this period have been marked by periods of tension and cooperation, cultural exchange has been constant. Diego Rivera’s America revisits a historical moment when Rivera, more than any other artist of his time, was instrumental in forging Mexican national identity in visual terms.
The exhibition features iconic works such as Dance in Tehuantepec (1928), The Flowered Canoe (1931), Nude with Calla Lilies (1944) and other depictions of flower carriers and vendors.
Three major paintings by Frida Kahlo created in San Francisco, including a self-portrait of her standing next to Rivera, are also included.
Diego Rivera’s America includes rarely seen works from private collections and major paintings on loan from museums in both the United States and Mexico.
In addition, studies for pivotal mural projects in Mexico City, San Francisco, and New York, as well as large-scale digital projections, convey the immersive quality of his epic murals.
Immersive programming is planned throughout the course of the exhibition, celebrating artist practices and the traditions of Mexico through art-making, storytelling and more. The museum will have activities available for guests of all ages. The programs will integrate local artists and Latinx partner organizations, along with guided tours and a variety of speakers.
- Member Preview | March 10 | 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.: Members are invited to get a first look at Diego Rivera’s America.
- Opening Lecture | March 10 | 6 – 7 p.m.: In this opening discussion, exhibition guest curator James Oles and Jen Padgett, acting Windgate curator of craft at Crystal Bridges, will delve into the key themes and stories of Diego Rivera’s America. Highlighting some of the exhibition’s standout artworks, their conversation will provide an inside look at the collaboration behind the exhibition and new discoveries around the legendary artist’s career in Mexico and the US.
- Pintura Fest | March 18 | 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Kick off spring break and a week of creative fun with a community celebration inspired by Diego Rivera’s America. Enjoy live music and performances by local artists, artmaking, and gallery talks. Local artists, teachers, and art students will create large-scale paintings live that will soon head out into nearby communities as public art displays, with additional programming activities. Pintura Fest is free and open to the public, no reservations required.
- Adult Workshop: Creating Murals with Alan Rodriguez | April 1 | 1 – 4 p.m. : Bring out your inner artist in this adult creative workshop! Led by artist, muralist, and guest instructor Alan Rodriguez, this class will teach you how to transform small sketches into large-scale artworks and murals. Discover how muralists like Rivera and Rodriguez plan and create their works, and get step-by-step guidance from an experienced muralist to bring your vision to life.
- Gallery Conversation: Exploring Diego Rivera with Ana Pulido Rull | April 22 | 1 – 1:45 p.m.: Join Ana Pulido Rull, Associate Professor of Latin American Art History at the University of Arkansas, for an exploration of artist Diego Rivera’s life through works on display in Diego Rivera’s America.
- Family Day: Día del Niño | April 30 | 12 – 4 p.m.| Inspired by the Mexican tradition of celebrating Día del Niño on April 30, explore a family day packed with all-ages creative fun to celebrate the children in our lives. Explore the galleries with free admission to Diego Rivera’s America, listen to live music, enjoy family artmaking, artist demos, storytelling, face painting, and more! From a musical greeting by performances on the Van Cliburn Grand Piano to a communal mural project in the studios, festivities galore abound for the young and young-at-heart.
- Cocktail Tours: Diego Rivera’s America | March 23, April 27, June 22 | 6 – 7:30 p.m.: Meet in the Garrison Lobby and learn how to make a handcrafted cocktail from master mixologists, then head into the galleries for a unique look at how Rivera’s work captured his vision of America.
- Performance: SoNA Beyond: I Paint What I See | June 30 | 7 – 8 p.m.: The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and Crystal Bridges bring together the visionary voices of musical curator and conductor Felipe Tristán, a SoNA chamber orchestra, Music Director Paul Haas, and Crystal Bridges curator Jen Padgett. The collaboration centers Latinx composers and focuses on the exhibition’s key themes, using the arts to highlight the profound beauty of the working class and everyday life, especially as it relates to Mexico’s mestizo and Indigenous roots. The evening of music will include selections by Carlos Chávez, José Pablo Moncayo, Gabriela Ortiz, Silvestre Revueltas, Alejandro Basulto, and Javier Álvarez.
Visit the exhibition page to discover more Diego Rivera-inspired programs.
Diego Rivera’s America is sponsored by Goldman Sachs, Christie’s, The Coca-Cola Company, Avocados From Peru, Shelby and Frederick Gans, Blakeman’s Fine Jewelry, Esther Silver-Parker, Halperin Foundation, Jim and Susan von Gremp, Cardinal Four Foundation.
This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
About Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Since opening in 2011, the museum has welcomed more than 6.2 million visitors, with no cost for admission. Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 as a non-profit charitable organization by arts patron and philanthropist, Alice Walton.
The collection spans five centuries of American masterworks from early American to current day and is enhanced by temporary exhibitions. The museum is nestled on 120 acres of Ozark landscape and was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A rare Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house was preserved and relocated to the museum grounds in 2015. Crystal Bridges offers public programs including lectures, performances, classes, and teacher development opportunities. Some 300,000 school children have participated in the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. Additional museum amenities include a restaurant, gift store, library, and five miles of art and walking trails. In February 2020, the museum opened a satellite contemporary art space in downtown Bentonville called the Momentary (507 SE E Street).
Diego Rivera’s America is on view until July 31, 2023
The museum is located at 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712.