May 14, 1933
Diego Rivera, noted Mexican mural painter, revealed last night in an address in the Town Hall that when he came to the United States he came not solely as an artist but too use his art to advance the cause of the proletariat.
Addressing an audience at a benefit entertainment under the auspices of the International Workers School, Rivera, who was dismissed last Tuesday night from Rockefeller Centtter because the mural he had been commissioned to paint included a portrait of Lenin, talked for more than an hour of his life work and specifically of the uncompleted mural in the RCA Building.
Had to Try It Here, He Says
Telling of his conviction that "in all cases the workers and peasants are right and that the artist should paint what the workers and peasants want," Mr. Rivera said that "his friends in Moscow" told him that this type of painting, which he had done in Mexico, "goes well in a peasant country but would not go in an industrialized country."
The only thing for me to do was to try it in an industrial country said Mr. Rivera, speaking in French which was interpreted into EngIish by two associates on the platform with him. "I could not try it in Spain because in Spain there is not enough industry, nor in France, because France already has too many artists, nor in Germany, where there is too much of everything. I had to try it in the United States.
"In order to get here I had to do as a man does in war. Sometimes in times of war a man disguises himself as a tree. My paintings in this country have become increasingly and gradually clearer".
Senor Rivera's first frescoes in the United States were painted in California, and a few of his easel pictures were shown here as much as ten years ago in one of the annual exhibitions of the Society of Independent Artists. The first real introduction however, that Senor Rivera had in the Eastern United States came in the Winter of 1931-32, when the Museum of Modern Art gave him an extensive retrospective exhibition, bringing him here some weeks before the opening of the show to paint murals for the show in a studio provided for him.
Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. was one of the founders of the museum, now its treasurer, and with her son, Nelson, is a member of the board of trustees. During the past season the museum issued an elaborate portfolio of reproductions of Rivera's frescoes in Mexico City.
Associated With Trotsky
Senor Rivera traced for his audience the general outlines of his career, telling of his association with Trotsky and other Revolutionaries in Paris before the Russian revolution, and saying that some of his friends in Paris of twenty years ago were now governing Russia.
In those days his communistic friends believed that for purposes of political propaganda it was sufficient to give the masses the type of art that was then being produced in Paris. Others thought that the masses would prefer a low grade art because lack of opportunity for art training would prevent their appreciation of good art.