February 15, 1934
In protest against the destruction of the Diego Rivera mural in Rockefeller Center, the council of he American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, including in its membership many of the most important artists in the country, decided last night after a prolonged discussion to withdraw from the Municipal Art Show which is to be held in Rockefeller Center from Feb. 28 through March. At the same time Leon Kroll, president of the organization, withdrew as a member of the committee arranging the show.
"Indignity Upon Artists"
This explanatory statement was made by the council:
"Under existing circumstances, the American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers had decided to withdraw from the exhibition at Rockefeller Center. This is not to be interpreted as a protest in sympathy with Rivera's work or communistic propaganda, but it is a definite protest against the indignity placed upon living artists by the arbitrary action of a corporation in destroying a work of art without previously consulting the artist. The council deeply regrets the necessity for this action because it is in full sympathy with Mayor LaGuardia's sponsorship of a municipal art exhibition to show the work of living American artists and will be glad to support a similar exhibition anywhere else".
The statement was signed by Mr. Kroll. The other members of the council present at the meeting were Jonas Lie, vice chairman; Abram Poole, treasurer; Alexander Brook, H. E. Schnakenberg and William Zorach. The society includes in its membership both academicians and "modern" artists, but leans toward modernism.
Independents to Exhibit
The board of directors of the Society of Independent Artists held a headed meeting last night in the studio of John Minas, president, decide to hold this year's exhibition in Rockefeller Center. This statement was given out:
"The directors of the Society of Independent Artists accept the invitation of Rockefeller Center to hold their eighteenth annual exhibition as part of the no-jury exhibition in, the forum of Rockefeller Center. In taking this action we feel that we are following the wishes of the majority of our members. The directors, however, hereby register their protest against the recent destruction of the Diego Rivera mural by the authorities of Rockefeller Center".
After the meeting Mr. Sloan expressed the opinion that if the directors had acted on their personal preferences, they would have declined to hold the show in Rockefeller Center, but that they felt they had no right to disregard the interests of the many members of the organization who might suffer in case the show were canceled. The society is without funds to rent space for an exhibition, which would have to be abandoned unless this offer of free space was accepted. Mr. Sloan said that as president of the Independents, he would disregard his personal feelings and exhibit in the show, although he would not send any of his work to the forthcoming Municipal Art Show.
The show of the Independents will open about April 15. Those who attended the meeting last night were George Constant, A. S. Baylinson, Paul Bartlett, Milton Avery, Bernar Gussow, Bertram Hartman, Charles Lops, Walter Pach, Magda Pach, Leo Sarkadi, Mr. Sloan and A. Walkowitz.
Mayor LaGuardia declined yesterday to take action in the controversy about holding the Municipal Art Show in Rockefeller Center.