February 14, 1934
In resentment against the destruction of the Rivera mural in the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center, a group of artists announced yesterday their withdrawal from the Municipal Art Show to be held in Rockefeller, - Center from Feb. 28 through March. They also called on their fellow-artists to take similar action and asked Mayor LaGuardia to cancel or transfer the show.
Eleven artists signed the following protest:
"We, the undersigned artists, indignant over the cultural vandalism of the Rockefeller Center authorities in destroying Diego Rivera's fresco, announce that we will not show our pictures at the Municipal Art Show if it is held at Rockefeller Center.
"Want of time prevents our getting in touch with the many painters and sculptors who, doubtless, feel as we do. Therefore we take this means of calling upon all our fellow-artists to join us in this protest by taking similar action.
"We are also calling upon Mayor LaGuardia either to cancel the forthcoming show or to transfer it to other quarters".
It was signed by A. S. Baylinson, Maurice Becker, George Biddle, Hugo Gellert, H. Glintenkamp, William Gropper, Edward Laning, Louis Lozowick, Walter Pach, Helene Sardeau, Ben Shahn and John Sloan.
It was also announced that a protest meeting would take place next Sunday night at Irving Plaza.
Leon Kroll, president of the American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers and a member of the committee in charge of arranging the Municipal Art Show, said last night that although he could not speak in behalf of the organization which he heads, since the council has yet to take up the matter, he personally felt "greatly distressed about the destruction of the Rivera Mural".
"Regardless of whether it was a great work of art, I don't feel that the Rockefeller family had a moral right to take such action", he continued. "It was particularly unfortunate to do so at this time, since the purpose of the forthcoming Municipal Art Show is to get all the best artists of New York together in a 'harmony party'".
"Everything was going along beautifully until this uncalled for destruction took place. I don't know yet what action the American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers will take until a meeting of the council is held".
Another protest was made by Ralph M. Pearson, artist and teacher formerly associated with the New School for Social Research, who withdrew his exhibit from the forthcoming Industrial Arts Exhibition to be held by the National Alliance of Art and Industry in the RCA Building In Rockefeller Center.
In a letter to Alon Bement, director of the alliance, Mr. Pearson also urged that the National Alliance refuse to hold its April exhibition on the Rockefeller properties.
Watrous Backs Rockefeller
A different point of view was expressed by Harry Watrous, president of the National Academy of Design and also a member of the committee arranging the Municipal Art Show, who termed the withdrawal of artists from the show as "an almost infinitesimal tempest in a tea pot; the show won't even know that they have withdrawn".
The ideal of the Municipal Art Exhibition, Mr. Watrous explained, "is to show paintings by New York artists from the most radical to the most conservative and to see the reaction of the public".
Mr. Watrous expressed the opinion that for artists to speak of the destruction of the Rivera mural as a crime against art' is all poppycock".
"I did not see the painting so I cannot speak of its merits as a work of art", he said. "But it was not a question of art. Mr. Rockefeller took offense at the political propaganda in this mural, felt that he had been insulted, and had the painting destroyed as he had a perfect right to do".