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Christie's to offer Diego Rivera's "The Rivals" as a highlight in the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection
Diego Rivera (1886-1957), The Rivals. Oil on canvas. 60 x 50 in. Painted in 1931. $5,000,000-7,000,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announces the masterpiece by Diego Rivera, The Rivals (estimate: $5-7million), as a highlight of the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, included in the May 2018 auction. The work will be featured in the exhibition of collection highlights at Christie’s Los Angeles from April 6-12, which is part of the global tour presented by private aviation company VistaJet. The full collection preview will be held at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza beginning April 28.

“Virgilio Garza, Head of Latin American Art, Christie’s: “Diego Rivera painted episodes of history, past and present, in panoramic frescos where social, political and economic forces were at play. But it is the easel works that reveal a Rivera less motivated by ideology and more by his love for the common man, sense of place and tradition. The Rivals, inspired by a local festivity from the state of Oaxaca, is masterfully expressed through the interplay of planes and colors, beautifully delineated figures, and shapes reduced to their essence. Not only is this an iconic image presenting one of Rivera’s most treasured subjects, its provenance is impeccable. The painting is Rivera’s calling card to New York, debuting at his MoMA exhibition in 1931 and rarely exhibited since 1937, this will be the first time for it to appear at auction, making it a truly exciting opportunity for the market.”

This large-scale oil painting was completed at a milestone moment in the artist’s career. The 1930s represented a significant decade for Rivera, during which time the artist completed his most impressive mural commissions in the United States. The latter solidified his reputation as the leading artist of the Mexican mural movement while helping galvanize the appreciation of Mexican art and culture in the United States. This painting also marked the beginning of his relationship with the Rockefeller family, which would later span generations. Commissioned by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, The Rivals was completed in a makeshift studio aboard the Morro Castle—the ship that transported Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to New York ahead of Rivera’s first exhibition at MoMA. The painting was passed down to David and Peggy Rockefeller in 1941 as a wedding gift and has never left the family.

In this dynamic scene, Rivera puts his unparalleled skills as a painter and colorist on full display. The theme, so profoundly Mexican, is infused with the modern use of multiple planes coupled with the artist’s chromatic sensibility. This painting reflects Rivera’s innovative approach to art-making through his ability to translate the subject of a regional narrative using a modern artistic language. The result is Rivera at his best and establishes him as the forerunner for a modern art movement to come directly from the Americas to the world. The vibrant tones and the sinuousness of certain compositional elements embody the style and sensual qualities which would become iconic to the artist.

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