Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

James D. Cockcroft’s Diego Rivera is a delightful biography describing the life of the great Mexican artist Diego María Rivera. It is part of a series of books entitled Hispanics of Achievement that seeks to describe contributions of great Hispanics both to American society and worldwide. The biography is divided into nine chapters, each a well-illustrated vignette describing a portion of the life and work of the artist. All the chapters, except for chapter 1, are in chronological order.

This first chapter, “Only in America,” takes place in the 1930’s, when the already-famous Rivera was in the midst of painting a mural commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in the RCA building of New York City’s Rockefeller Center. The mural, Man at the Crossroads Looking with Uncertainty but with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a Course Leading to a New and Better Future, was meant to honor the strivings of the working class. It soon became quite unsatisfactory to the artist’s patron, however, because of the prominent inclusion of the communist leader Vladimir Ilich Lenin.

In the eyes of his patron, Rivera went too far, beginning what the news media named “the battle of Rockefeller Center.” In the end, Rivera was paid completely for the unfinished work and fired. The mural was covered over and later destroyed. Rivera fought this drastic artistic censorship quite vigorously. The chapter summarizes his talents, tenacity, and...

(The entire section is 555 words.)