Monday, February 01, 2010

Diego Rivera and My Dad

Family lore has it that Diego Rivera asked my dad about how to write Hebrew letters for his mural Man Controlling The Universe which is on the second floor of the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Apparently, my dad, all of 9 years old, would come and watch him paint. They became friends.

The mural is from 1934. If you look on the right bottom side of the mural, where the red banner is, this is what you'll see, sadly fading today:

Trotsky, Marx and Engels with the banner of the IV International Socialist Congress.
I took this photo last Friday.  Look closer:

In Yiddish:  Arbeter fun ale lender fareinikt aich in Fertn Internatzionale Sotzializt.
Workers of the world unite in the Fourth International Socialist.
Makes sense, cause my Dad didn't speak Hebrew but he spoke Yiddish.
Diego gave my dad a pencil portrait sketch of his young likeness. It is signed and dedicated, "a mi amigo Aarón Maam, Diego Rivera". That's not how we spell our last name, but never mind. Apparently my dad folded it and put it in his pocket. Years later my mom ironed it and they had it framed. It's the head of a smiling boy, with thin hair, and almond shaped clear eyes. It doesn't look anything like my dad, but it does look a lot like my nephew Daniel. Go figure. 

My dad was friends with Diego until the fifties, when he got very disenchanted with Stalin and his murderous anti-intellectual, anti-Semitic and inhuman politics. Diego adored Stalin regardless, and he and my Dad never spoke again.


  1. What a great story, Enchi. I just read on Mexican Yahoo! that Marika Rivera, Diego's daughter with Marevna Vorobieff, died on January 14, 2010 in England. She was 90 and in the advanced stages of dementia.

    Souls like these will live forever if we continue to transmit our memories of them. Thanks for sharing your story -- que viva La Grande Enchilada!

  2. Wow, that's awesome! :)