If any man can be said to have changed the course of a nation's art single handed, it is Diego Rivera. He was born in 1886 in the Mexican silver mining town of Guanajuato. His father, a freemason with a 'liberal' background, was a teacher at the time of Diego's birth and later became a school inspector. Rivera was the elder of twin boys, but his brother died at the age of two. His family left his birthplace when he was six, driven out partly by the failure of certain mining speculations and partly by the unpopularity generated by his father's liberalism.Rivera soon showed himself to be a precociously gifted artist and began to study in the evenings at the Academy of San Carlos at the age of ten. At sixteen Rivera joined a student strike at the Academy and was expelled. In due course he was officially reinstated, but never returned, instead working independently for the next five years.
Realizing that his son was getting nowhere in his chosen profession, Rivera senior helped Diego win a scholarship, awarded by the Governor of the Province of Veracruz, to study abroad. The young artist arrived in Spain in January 1907. Rivera made Spain his base for an extended tour which took in France, Belgium, Holland and England. He was in France in 1909, where he encountered the work of the Fauves and Cezanne, but he was later to claim that the artist who impressed him most was Henri Rousseau, 'Le Douanier' 'the only one of the moderns whose works stirred each and every fibre of my being.'
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