Diego Rivera remains the most recognized master of the Mexican School, and an important figure in the history of Latin American modern art. During his lifetime, he was honored with numerous solo exhibitions internationally including an early show at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1931. His striking personality and his great talent made him a key figure during the 1920s and 1930s, a decade of cultural effervescence in Mexico.
Rivera received his earliest formal training in Mexico at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas, Academia de San Carlos and the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes from 1897 to 1906. In 1907, the artist left for Europe where he remained until 1921. In Spain he studied the work of great masters such as El Greco, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya while in Paris, he became familiar with the Cubist avant-garde and participated in important exhibitions. In 1920, Rivera traveled to Italy with David Alfaro Siqueiros and discovered the work of such Renaissance artists as Giotto, Mantegna and Uccello. The following year, José Vasconcelos, newly appointed Minister of Education, invited the artist back to Mexico and by 1922 Rivera had commenced work on his first mural at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, The Creation. Rivera combined in his murals elements such as Cubism, Quattrocento influences, and a celebration of Mexican pre-Columbian history.
This striking portrait of a young girl is both a celebration of youth and Mexico's indigenous people. The young girl, Luz--one of Rivera's favorite models, sits on the ground spinning, probably cotton. Spinning is part of the process of the traditional craft of weaving which has been practiced by both women and men in Mexico since ancient times. The artist's fascination with the traditions of his country led him to relish them in numerous compositions, especially during the 1930s. Noted are several works both on paper and on canvas such as La tejedora, a watercolor work, and Mujer indígena tejiendo, and La tejedora (both works on canvas), all from 1936 that illustrate woman weaving. The artist painted Luz several times--always capturing her charm and gracefulness. During his entire life Rivera was relentless in depicting the various daily activities of his people or la vida mexicana in all its manifestations whether in monumental works such as his many murals or individual portraits such as this.