Rivera became one of the most esteemed figures in Mexican modernism through his contributions to developing the nation’s visual culture in the first half of the twentieth century. After a decade studying art in Europe, he returned to Mexico and worked for several government-funded cultural programs, which included his first mural commission—an undertaking that catapulted his career. Rivera painted several ambitious mural cycles in Mexico and quickly established himself as the painter of choice for the Mexican government.
By the late 1920s, however, political conflicts largely ended new commissions of public murals in Mexico, so Rivera traveled to the United States in 1930, where he created large murals in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. After returning to Mexico in 1933, he entered a slower period of productivity, focusing on private commissions and paintings suffused with mexicanidad. The resulting works both popularized and elevated Mexican art throughout the world.