This ambitious account of the Mexican muralist's life and art is as chock-full of allusions and images as one of Rivera's historical paintings. Unfortunately, however, the currents of discussion here never flow together in a way that's manageable for young readers. Information about the artist's personal life is played down in favor of exhaustive (sometimes exhausting) descriptions of how impressionism, cubism and Italian Renaissance perspective influenced the work. Later, Goldstein stresses the political and aesthetic aspects of Rivera's oeuvre as a response to his pre-Columbian heritage. The emphasis in Goldstein's discussion becomes skewed-the book focuses more on the glory of Mexican cultural traditions than on the glory of Rivera, implying that he is a great artist chiefly because of his attention to Mexican heritage. Rivera's more lyrical side gets little attention in this sometimes pretentious catalogue of the artist's ``hidden language behind a veil of concealments''; and too many reproductions are out of focus. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)
- Judy Silverman
Goldstein's account of the life of this remarkable Mexican artist is not really a children's book. However, the pictures alone make it worth introducing to anyone 7 and up. The text will fascinate junior high school aged readers. In addition to Rivera, Goldstein talks about Mexican history, and does so in an entertaining fashion that holds the reader's interest while it instructs. This book will appeal on many different levels.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Goldstein discusses Rivera's work rather than his personal life. His artistic development from his days in Paris as a Cubist painter to his magnificent later murals is well described, and his political ideals, which are inseparable from his art, are handled objectively. A number of paintings and murals are interpreted in a clear and interesting style. There are diagrams of the National Palace murals, as well as a description and diagram of the Golden Section. The occasionally blurry reproductions include a three-page foldout. Minor inaccuracies and an uneasy relationship between text and illustrations are drawbacks. With only two exceptions, there is no mention of the page location of the illustration being discussed, and in some cases the reproduction doesn't match the description. Jan Gleiter and Kathleen Thompson's Diego Rivera (Steck-Vaughn, 1989), James Cockcroft's Diego Rivera (Chelsea, 1991), and Jeanette and Jonah Winter's Diego (Knopf, 1991) are primarily biographical; Anne Neimark's Diego Rivera (HarperCollins, 1992) is fictionalized but does discuss his inspiration, technique, and artistic development. While Goldstein's book is not an essential purchase, reading it is like accompanying an enthusiastic and knowledgeable docent through an exhibition.-Pam Gosner, Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ
This is not a biography of Rivera. There's barely a mention of his childhood, and Frida Kahlo's name appears only once. Rather, this is a focused, almost scholarly look at Rivera's art. The text does not make many concessions to its young audience, and it will probably be art students who will be most interested in Goldstein's explanations of Rivera's work and its passionate relationship to the history of Mexico. The art itself, however, which is wonderfully reproduced here, can be enjoyed by even the most casual browser. It is Rivera's dramatic murals that are center stage, and young people will be caught up in the intense images. Even those who do not want to read the book cover to cover may be so taken with the art that they will delve into the text just to get a stronger sense of what the pictures represent. A handsome, informative offering.