Happy May 1st everyone! Around the world, countries are celebrating what is often referred to as May Day. The celebration is rooted in the Pagan observance of the “cross-quarter day”, when the Northern Hemisphere falls halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Over time, the Pagan holiday lost much of its original meaning, though many nations continue to celebrate May Day with parades, festivals, rallies, and basket giving.
May 1st is also a day that many countries celebrate International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day, in observance of the social and economic achievements of the labour movement. The colourful image below is a 1956 painting by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. May Day Procession in Moscow is an optimistic painting depicting a rally during the Cold War .
Considered a social realist, Rivera was interested in the social problems and hardships of everyday life. For this reason, Rivera felt a connection to the Communist movement in Russia and the state of the working class. His interest in communism also grew during a visit to Europe after meeting his first wife, Russian Angelina Beloff.
In 1922, Rivera joined the Mexican Communist Party and was active in the founding of the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors. Russian Leon Trotsky, after his expulsion from the Russian Communist Party, lived at the home of Rivera, and later at the home of Rivera’s wife, artist Frida Kahlo.
The Communist Movement continued to be a major source of artistic motivation and inspiration for Rivera. In 1933, he was commissioned to paint a mural for the RCA building of Rockefeller Center. The mural was never completed, however, because it included a portrait of Lenin which he refused to remove.
For more information about Rivera, visit DiegoRivera.com.