First U.S. Presentation of Popol Vuh: Watercolors of Diego Rivera

Who doesn’t love a Diego Rivera mural or painting, let alone a whole exhibit of his work! The Bowers Museum, in Santa Ana, California, is currently displaying 17 original watercolors by Rivera. What makes these paintings so fascinating is the design/creation process behind them. The Popol Vuh: Watercolors of Diego Rivera exhibit is literally infused with the Quiche Maya people’s rich history, from the dawn of creation to their first contact with the Spanish.


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The Popol Vuh is one of the most important and sacred texts in existence from the Pre-Hispanic world. It’s an epic tale depicting the origins, traditions, legends and history of the Quiche Maya people. The fact that the Popol Vuh survived to this day is unbelievable, considering that nearly every ancient Mesoamerican document was destroyed by Spanish conquerors or missionaries. The Popol Vuh escaped total annihilation thanks to an 18th century priest who translated the text into Spanish.


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Rivera created a total of 24 watercolors based on the Popol Vuh. It is said that Rivera illustrated the watercolors from the imagery evoked when writer John Weatherwax’s read Rivera the text – how cool! The end result was a set of colorful, highly stylized paintings that look like they came straight out of ancient Mesoamerica.


Courtesy of Biography

Rivera, born on Dec. 8, 1886, in Guanajuato, Mexico, was one of the leading artists of the 20th century before his death in 1957. He was best known for his murals that reflected the lives of Mexican people, and that were often times controversial. Rivera is remembered as an important figure in 20th century art, with movies like Cradle Will Rock (1999) and Frida (2002) depicting his professional and personal life.


Courtesy of Bowers Museum Twitter


The Popol Vuh: Watercolors of Diego Rivera exhibit is the first U.S. presentation of these 17 paintings. On loan from the Museo Casa Diego Rivera in Rivera’s hometown of Guanajuato, Mexico, make sure you head over to the Bowers Museum before Rivera’s paintings return home. Popol Vuh: Watercolors of Diego Rivera will be on display at the Bowers Museum until May 19 – don’t miss out on this amazing exhibit!

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