Fresco Painting and the Fresco Technique of Diego Rivera

The intent of this research paper is to explore the chemistry of and technique used in the time-honored art medium of fresco painting.  The second section of the painting reviews Diego Rivera’s fresco technique in the context of his fresco work in the United States in the decade 1930 – 1940.

It’s been said that the “ancient art of fresco turned an unknown Diego Rivera into ‘the world’s greatest muralist.’” (Hurlburt 99) Fresco is, of course, not really mural painting; rather it is an ancient Mexican and European form of wall painting that involves applying water-based pigment to fresh plaster. (Indych-Lopez 78)

The first section of the paper explains the history of fresco as an art form, a glossary of the terms used in fresco, the chemistry of fresco, preparation of the substrate, how to transfer the fresco drawings onto the wall, fresco palette and pigments, and finally some of the common hazards and deleterious effects to which frescos are susceptible.

In the second section, the paper looks at Diego Rivera’s fresco work – focusing on his work in the United States between 1930 and 1940.  The paper investigates anecdotes about Diego Rivera’s adherence to traditional technique, his palette, and a review of his major U.S. fresco work.  We also look into his innovative moveable fresco.