May 11, 1933
NEW YORK, May 10--Diego Rivera, forced by the Rockefeller family to abandon work on his proletarian panorama, issued this ultimatum tonight:
"Either the head of Lenin stays in or I wash my hands of the whole work."
Dropping a hastily prepared plan to test the power of the court to guarantee the completion and exhibition of the mural--the dominant art theme in the seventy-story central building of Rockefeller Center--the Mexican artist said.
"I leave my cause in the hands of the workers of brain and hand in the United States and the world."
At Rockefeller Center no decision was reached during the day as to the disposition of the work. The fresco work is such that the entire front elevator facade must be torn down to dispose of the mural.
Attaches at the center said John D. Rockefeller Jr. personally appeared last night to order Rivera to cease his work.
As the day brought the formation of artists and writers committees to back Rivera's stand, the belief was expressed in one quarter close to Rockefeller Center that the controversy will subside within a few weeks and the mural will be completed.
In his tower apartment, high above Central Park and overlooking the Hudson, the bulky artist outlined his position tonight:
"This is not personal, but represents the cause of all artists and their right to express themselves freely and integrally. Those who have come to my aid come not in the defense of Diego Rivera, but of the most elementary human right: the right of freedom of thought and expression. I shall sustain to the limit my right to conclude my work without any modifications whatever imposed by the power of wealth, and shall fight for the completion and exhibition of my work. Afterward they can do with it what they will. I am sure they will not be able to destroy either the emotion or the thought which it contains."
Surrounded by his corps of assistants, the artist declared he has not violated the intent of his agreement with the Rockefellers; that his original sketch for the mural provided for the head of a proletarian leader, and that in his belief the logical man to portray is Lenin.