Conversations with Diego Rivera

The Monster in His Labyrinth, Weekly Interviews From 1949-1950

Translated by Alvaro Cardona-Hine

Available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book (also exam or desk copies for instructors) through our distributor NYU Press.

These intimate Sunday dialogues with what is surely the most influential Mexican artist of the twentieth century show us the free-flowing mind of a man who was a legend in his own time; an artist who escaped being lynched on more than one occasion, a painter so controversial that his public murals inspired movements, or, like the work commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, were ordered torn down. Here in his San Angelín studio, we hear Rivera's feelings about the elitist aspect of paintings in museums, his motivations to create public art for the people, and his memorable, unedited expositions on the art, culture, and politics of Mexico.

A series of Alfredo Cardona-Peña's weekly interviews with Rivera were published in 1949 and 1950 in the Mexican newspaper, El Nacional, for which Alfredo was a journalist. His book of compiled interviews with introduction and preface, El Monstruo en su Laberinto, was published in Spanish in 1965. Finally, this extraordinary and rare exchange has been translated for the first time into English by Alfredo's half-brother Alvaro Cardona Hine, also a poet. According to the translator's wife, Barbara Cardona-Hine, bringing the work into English was a labor of love for Alvaro, the fulfillment of a promise made to his brother in 1971 that he did not get to until the year before his own death in 2016.

Alfredo Cardona Peña was a poet, narrator, essayist, journalist, and science fiction writer from Costa Rica, considered one of the greatest Latin American authors of the 20th century. He lived in Mexico from 1939 until his death in 1995, and became a widely-read columnist in Mexico's Rotary Mexican News, which gave him access to key figures of the artistic and intellectual scene of Mexico’s capital. His fearsome Chronicles column earned him reputation as an analyst of the cultural times, and his weekly interviews with the controversial muralist Diego Rivera, from which The Monster in His Labyrinth derives, became an overwhelming success.


Title Conversations with Diego Rivera
Subtitle The Monster in His Labyrinth, Weekly Interviews From 1949-1950
Publisher New Village Press
Title First Published 09 July 2018
Original Title El Monstruo en su Laberinto
Original Sub Title Conversaciones Con Diego Rivera
Original Language Spanish
Original Publisher Costa Amic
Original Publication 1965





1/ At the Foot of the Fountain                          

2/ The Aesthetics of the Valley                        

3/ Popular Art                                                   

4/ The Pre-Hispanic Businesspage                  

5/ Critique and Critics                                       

6/ Mexican Painting                                          

7/ Rivera in Action                                                    

Additional Materials


"'If art is not made, there is a danger of death,' Diego Rivera tells us in this splendid book, which is itself a

- Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime

"This book is a marvelous stroll with Mexican artist Diego Rivera, a gift offered by Alfredo Cardona Peña with

- Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz, author of Mezquite Road

"Alfredo Cardona Peña rightly captures in this book with sarcasm, knowledge, wisdom and ingenuity

- Rina Lazo, painter & last living student of Diego


Conversations with Diego Rivera Book Launch
314 W 8th St, Dallas, Texas 75208, July 9, 2018 7:30-9pm CDT

A tertulia event for Conversations with Diego Rivera: The Monster in His Labyrinth, first English translation. With dramatic readings in the original Spanish and the new English, featuring special guests: writer Ben Fountain and art historian Rick Bretell, with Cora Cardona and her daughter, artist Sara Cardona. This will be followed by a conversation about how these two creatives (Diego Rivera and Alfredo Cardona-Peña) came to know one another. There will also be a Rivera cocktail for the evening and lots of authentic Mexican music.