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Diego Rivera, artist and man of fire, celebrated with Google Doodle

December 8, 2011 |  9:50 am

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Rivera is honored with a Google Doodle.
Diego Rivera wasn't just a brilliant artist, he was also a compelling man whose life held violence and controversy. Google celebrates the muralist with a Google Doodle on Thursday that mirrors Rivera's style.

"If I ever loved a woman, the more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her," Rivera once said. "Frida was only the most obvious victim of this disgusting trait."

He referred to artist Frida Kahlo, whom he married in 1929. Theirs was a stormy relationship filled with extramarital affairs and fighting.

PHOTOS: Doodles past

But stormy relationships were a habit with Rivera. He famously sliced Russian-born lover Marevna Vorobieff in the neck, and she later did the same to him.

On Dec. 13, 1886, Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. His father's occupations included work as a teacher, and his mother was a doctor. Life was comfortable, and Diego began drawing at age 3. His father built him a studio with canvas-covered walls. That was just the beginning of Rivera's talent for creating art on walls.

Rivera, tutored at one time by Spanish painter Chicharro, pursued his art education to Europe, where he became part of the Parisian art world for a decade. For a time, he embraced cubism:  "I don't believe in God but I believe in Picasso," he's quoted as saying.

Rivera was a communist and an unapologetic atheist. His mural "Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda" included a sign saying, "God does not exist." For years, the painting was not shown while Rivera refused to remove that inscription. He finally did remove it, all the while proclaiming his atheism and saying that religions were "a form of collective neurosis." 

Rivera's talent, ultimately, was as undeniable as his violent temper and volatile life.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York recently brought together five of eight frescoes that Rivera created for a 1930s retrospective at the museum. The works, feverishly created by Rivera and assistants at the gallery in the six weeks leading up to the 1931 retrospective, are on display through May 14.

Amy Hubbard+

Photo: Painter Diego Rivera, with wife Frida Kahlo, during the Mexican Labor party's anti-fascist demonstration in Mexico City on Nov. 23, 1936. Credit: Associated Press

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