Vol. 7
February 1932
By Robert Evans

PAINTING AND POLITICS
The Case of Diego Rivera

Removed from the sunlight and altitude of Mexico City, the canvasses and frescoes in Diego Rivera's current exhibition [1931 MoMA exhibition] reveal their strength and weaknesses more clearly than in their native surroundings. The awkwardness of the painter's draughtsmanship and composition stand out; the eternal bambino of his canvasses, their monotonous repetition of colors and lack of imagination bore the spectator. From the frescoes alone is it possible to realize the artist's power and to understand why he occupies a unique place among modern painters.

The exhibition contains only a few copies of Rivera's frescoes, by no means the best; yet even from these it is obvious that his reputation is due not to his craftsmanship, but to his themes. The frescoes live primarily with the mirrored power of the Mexican revolution. His easel-paintings, dull in their imitation of the French moderns or else too small to hold the swollen, stereotypes of his Indian children, are interesting chiefly as the gropings of an artist who found his real strength in those vast caricatures in color which reflect the armed struggle of social classes. And though these magnificent cartoons are intellectual, remote and devoid of feeling, the artist's detached serenity cannot diminish the power of the story they tell. In this sense, the Mexican worker and peon have done more for Diego Rivera than he has done for them. They furnished him the content which justifies his crude form; they infused purpose and meaning into the hand that progressed from Picasso to Zapata, from Zapata to Lenin, only to falter at a critical moment, to desert the new-found line, and to plunge back into the sterility of middle class concepts.

In our day it is no longer necessary to "prove" that art is an integral part of the life of society, hence reflects economic changes, social conflicts, and political tendencies. The storms of the epoch of fascism and revolution have blown the ivory tower to pieces. Poets and painters in every country are openly aligning themselves with the various political camps. Under the pressure of the economic crisis, those who yesterday maintained that art was above the battle today scribble on debts and reparations, and those who two years ago barricaded themselves behind their canvasses have switched their talk from El Greco and Paul Klee to their patrons who have been ruined in the stock market.

These things are not new to Diego Rivera. He learned long ago that no artist lives in a vacuum. The Mexican revolution taught him that in the struggle of social classes even to be "impartial" is to take sides. His evolution as a painter has been marked by error and miscalculation; it cannot, however, be said to have been "unconscious"; for here we have an artist who plays politics while he paints, and devises theoretical arguments to explain and justify both activities.

But even without these theories, Rivera's political evolution is recorded in his canvasses and frescoes. The selection now on exhibition reveals three distinct stages: the period before the artist was influenced by the revolution, a period in which he lived in Europe and painted in both academic and modernistic manner; the period when he returned to Mexico, entered the revolutionary struggle, and drew his inspiration from it; and the present period, when he has abandoned the revolutionary movement and turned to painting for the bourgeoisie. In these changes the artist symbolizes the Mexican middle-class from which he comes and which also moved from revolution to counter-revolution in the past decade. Indeed, it was on the question of middle-class leadership of the Mexican revolution that Rivera was expelled from the Communist party in which he occupied a unique and anomalous position.

This position was due to a large extent to the unusual place which painting holds in Mexico. In this semi-tropical colony of the American empire, where the bulk of the population is Indian and illiterate, the painters are intellectuals whose roles in analogous to that of writers in other countries. The Indian cannot be reached by the printed word; he can be reached by color and design. His daily surroundings are decorated by beautiful objects wrought by his own hands. He may have no land and no shoes, but his miserable hovel has its colored serapes, potteries, tapestries, wood-carvings, lacquered chests and trays, done in the form and spirit of the days before the Spaniard came. With this cultural basis, not unlike that of Medieval Europe, the painter occupies a position less like that of Matisse in Paris and more like that of Giotto in Florence. He is the high-priest of native aesthetics, and in the absence of a literary caste with the power to sway multitudes, he becomes a national figure whose opinions on social and political questions carry weight.

Yet this position of the artist is itself a product of the revolution. Under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz and the landowners, the upper classes and the artists in their pay completely disregarded the workers and peasants of Mexico. The latter by their toil supplied the money with which the landowners sought pleasure and culture in the capitals of Europe, and their painters reflected this parasitic life by imitating the painters of France and Spain, filling their canvasses with Parisian ballet dancers and Sevillian ladies. It was only when the Mexican workers and peasants entered the political arena, with rifles in their hands, that their images began to fill the canvasses and frescoes of Mexican painters.

Rivera was not in Mexico during the armed revolution. He had been sent to study art in Europe on a scholarship granted by the Diaz regime. There he imitated the styles and themes of the French contemporaries. There was nothing to distinguish his work from that of a hundred other talented art students. He had not yet found anything new to say or an original way of saying it, and could not find it until he returned to Mexico. When he did return, he faced a new world. Under the presidency of General Alvaro Obregon, the Mexican bourgeoisie entrenched itself in power. The old landowners had been replaced by a new class of landowners, consisting chiefly of military leaders. But there remained the traditions of the workers and the peasants revolution, to which even the military chiefs had to give lip service. There was a rapidly developing national consciousness which in politics expressed itself in a struggle against American imperialism, and in culture in a return to native themes and art-forms; and there was a growing awareness on the part of the workers and the peasants that were inimical to the growth of the masses. This awareness expressed itself in the growth of the trade unions and the peasant organizations and in a swing towards the Communist Party. More nearly related to his own work, Rivera found the Painter's Syndicate which included the finest talents in the country, and which was under the influence of the Communist Party. Eventually, some of its most gifted members, like Siquieros and Xavier Guerero, abandoned painting for politics altogether until recently. Under these conditions, it was natural for Rivera to adopt the course he did. One the one hand, the government, which followed a policy of conciliating all classes, and of "safeguarding" the "fruits" of the revolution, engaged Rivera, Orozco, Siquieros, and other painters to do the immense frescoes which cover the four walls facing the patio of the Secretariat of Education; on the other, many of these painters, Rivera included, became members of the Communist Party.

Rivera's development as an original painter begins with his revolutionary frescoes. The desire to return to this form has been prevalent some time in Europe and the United States, partly due to the desire of painters to play a more important social role, and partly to their search among primitive and mediaeval forms for values which the decay of bourgeois culture is unable to give them. Social and climactic conditions made Mexico the ideal place for a revival of the fresco. Its technical success was assured by semi-tropical sunlight and the clear, dry air of the capital, almost eight thousand feet above sea-level. But more imoprtant (sic) was the new tradition and purpose had been hammered out by the Mexican masses. The revival of this mediaeval form did not depend on imitating the themes of Massaccio and Michelangelo, or attempting to give a spurious grandeur to the sordid pursuit of money by the bourgeoisie. The revolution was genuinely heroic; the surging of the workers and peasants across the plains of Mexico in the struggle for "land and liberty" had an epic quality indispensable to frescoes.

Rivera now had both the form and the theme. The stupendous frescoes in the Secretariat live with the power of the Mexican masses. Here the brown bodies of Mexican weavers, naked to the waist, bend over primitive looms; the natives of Tehuantepec dye cloth with the purple extracted from Pacific coast shells while the women balance on their heads colored trays heavy with mangoes, bananas, and pineapples. An armed mine guard searches a coal miner coming out of the coal pit, his head drooping from exhaustion; peons bend under the weight of grain sacks, carefully watched by the manager of the hacienda who fingers his cartridge belt. On another hacienda they are cutting the cords of a peon who has just been whipped. A peasant and worker embrace under verses by the Mexican poet Gutierrez Cruz: "Disinherited of field and city, united in struggle and pain…" The bodies of workers glow red in the glare of molten steel. Other panels show the distributor of land. Brown-faced peasants in white shirts and blue overalls, carry bright red banners, surrounding the heroes of the agrarian revolution Zapata and Felipe Carilo. Elsewhere there appear the Soviet five-pointed star, the hammer and sickle. The worker and peasant appear either as victims of oppression or as heroes engaged in a struggle for liberation; the bourgeois, Mexican and American alike, is savagely caricatured in his greed, cruelty, and decadence. The revolution had found an artist, and the artist had found the revolution. But the revolution could go on without the artist. Whether the artist could go on without the revolution remained to be seen.

The test came in 1929. At that time Rivera was famous as a revolutionary artist. In Mexico he was also known as a member of the central committee of the Communist Party. As such he participated in the formulation of crucial decisions. The government at that time consisted of petit-bourgeois reformers who had flirted with Communism. President Portes Gil was accustomed, as governor of Tamaulipas, to hand out portraits of Lenin to the peasants who visited him. Marte Gomez, Minister of Agriculture, and de Negri, Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Labor, both expressed sympathies with communism which had a considerable following among the workers and peasants. In the spring of that year a revolt headed by General Escobar attempted to restore the power of the church and the old landowners. The Communist Party not only aided the government in suppressing this revolt, but in some cases victory was chiefly due to the workers and peasants under communist leadership. In Vera Cruz it was a force of armed peasants, carrying red banners with the hammer and sickle, that defeated the counter-revolutionary troops. The government found communist assistance useful as long as it was threatened by the Escobar revolt; but the moment that revolt was crushed, it initiated a policy of disarming the peasants and suppressing the Communist Party. Militant workers and peasants were arrested in various parts of the country, their organizations were disrupted, and several communists were assassinated. In the State of Durango supporters of the government assassinated Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez, agrarian leader and state organizer for the Workers' and Peasants' Bloc, and in Puebla they arrested Jesus Garcia, head of the state organization of the Bloc.

The head of the Bloc was Diego Rivera. He was the object of violent political attacks. Terrones Benitez, governor of Durango, denounced him as a traitor to the republic and a bad painter. Rivera replied to these charges in a letter published in El Universal, August 10, 1929, in which he defended the artistic merits of his frescoes, and declared that for three months he had been inactive politically with the permission of the Party because of ill health and his professional duties. The duties involved the painting of a vast fresco on one of the walls of the National Palace. It was to depict the history of Mexico from the Aztecs to the present time, and the original design culminated in a figure of a woman, symbolizing Mexico, holding to her heart an armed worker and an armed peasant.

The government's campaign of terror against revolutionary organization continued. In August thugs hired by landowners in Portero in the State of Nuevo Leon, murdered the local chairman of the Workers' and Peasant's Bloc. The police of the State Durango invaded the State of Coahuila and in the city of Torreon arrested and kidnapped two organizers of the International Labor Defence. In Mexico City, the government confiscated the Party organ El Machete, the organ of the communist trade unions Defense Proletaria, the organ of the Workers' and Peasants' Bloc Bandera Roja, and the organ of the Young Communist League Spartak. A number of Communists were arrested. In the State of Coahuila the governor ordered the disarmament of all communists and leftwing peasants. In September the government ordered the state governors to send arrested communists to the penal colony of Islas Marias where the worst criminals are kept. Catholic rebels who had been imprisoned on Islas Maria were released to make room for communists. In the State of Tamaulipas, two peasants active in the Workers' and Peasants' Bloc, Anselmo Guzman and Leon Morales, were hung.

At the head of the Workers' and Peasants' Bloc and member if the central committee of the Communist Party, Rivera had to clarify his attitude toward the government which was persecuting, arresting, and murdering his comrades. The Party asked him to protest against the terror. Furthermore, both as a revolutionary politician and a revolutionary painter, he had to take a definite stand on the fundamental questions behind the terror. These questions revolved around the central fact that the Mexican government had taken the road of counter-revolution. It persecuted communists because the Party vigorously called the attention of the workers and peasants to the counter-revolutionary role of the government, and led an organized struggle against it. For one thing, it conducted a fight against the labor code which the government was attempting to put through. It condemned this code as fascist in character, destroying the right to strike, favoring foreign and native capital, establishing compulsory arbitration, and placing the solution of industrial conflicts in the hands of the bourgeois government. The Party further attacked the government's compromise with the clerical and porfirist elements, as exemplified by the pact with the church; its cooperation with American imperialism, represented at that time by Dwight Morrow; its reorganization and rationalization of industry in the interests of native and foreign capital, its agrarian policy which robbed the peasant of his land.

The latter question was of special importance to Diego Rivera, both as Communist and painter. His frescoes celebrate, above all, the agrarian revolution; the hero of his epic in colors is Zapata. Yet, as a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Rivera subscribed to a thesis whose line of the agrarian question was opposed to Zapatism. This thesis, adopted in the summer of 1929, pointed out that the outstanding economic facts in Mexico at that time were the intensification of semi-colonial capitalism, the extension of imperialism, the liquidation of the revolution of 1910, and the preparation for a new workers and peasants revolution. The agrarian reform was bankrupt, and the big landowners had triumphed, the Party maintained. The Mexican masses had fought for eighteen years to obtain land only to be betrayed by the government, which now suspended the distribution of land. During those eighteen years the peasants had received only six million out of a total of one hundred and sixty million hectares. Millions of peasants were still without the land to which they were entitled. On the other hand, the old landowners had lost nothing, since they had been compensated for their land. In short, the government's policy had created a class of rich landowners with large estates, and a class of well-to-do middle peasants, while leaving the mass of Mexican peasants poor and without land or without means for working the land. A similar process has taken place in all countries where there has been agrarian reform, such as Poland, Rumania, Lithuania, Esthonia, Czekoslovakia, and so on. Agrarian reform is a piece of demagogy used to destroy to agrarian revolution; and everywhere its results are the same: it leaves the majority of the peasants no land at all, it aids the big landowners, and creates a stratum of rich peasants who become allies of the counter-revolution. The position of the Communist Party was, therefore, that the bankruptcy of agrarian reforms was the bankruptcy of the petit-bourgeois agrarianism in Mexico which attempted to solve the agrarian problem in a legal manner within the frame-work of capitalism. Despite the Party's attitude, Rivera continued his alliance with Marte Gomez, a leader of this petit-bourgeois agrarian movement.

The Communist Party's attitude toward the Zapata movement may be stated as follows: Direct action by armed peasants for the destruction of the large landed estates was sufficient to compel the dominant classes in the regions menaced by the Zapata movement to make concessions. That is why in the State of Morelos, of which Zapata was a native, thirty-three percent of the land was distributed among twenty five percent of the peasant families, the highest figure in all of Mexico. Nevertheless, this action of the peasants, territorially limited and operating within the framework of capitalism, was insufficient to obtain land for all the peasants. Zapatism had great historical importance because it initiated agrarian relations. But it was defeated because the time has passed when peasant revolutions are possible without an alliance with the workers. On these premises, the Communist Party urged that the agrarian question could be solved only by a workers and peasants soviet revolution. Painting Zapata as the hero of the Mexican revolution while condemning Zapatism as a social solution, undoubtedly tended to confuse Rivera's conceptions on basic values, both as painter and politician.

In the midst of the Communist Party's struggle against the government and the government's attacks on the Party, Rivera, still a member of the central committee and head of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, accepted a government post as head of the national school of fine arts. In 1928, a year prior to this appointment, Portes Gil had offered Rivera a post in the cabinet as minister of fine arts, but the painter had declined the offer. About a week prior to the appointment, Rivera had defended himself against an attack of Governor Terrones Benitez by saying that his murals had been praised by painters of all cultured countries for their technical skill and what was more important to him, the proletariat of Europe, the United States and Mexico had recognized him as their painter and had sustained his work.

Now Rivera adopted a different line. To begin with, his action raised the question as the whether a communist ought to accept a post from a government which was jailing, deporting, and shooting his comrades. This was a political question, yet, so closely as is Rivera's art bound up with politics, that following his appointment marked changes were noticeable in his work and in his attitude toward it. He now abandoned the line upon which he had developed his career; instead of painting the workers and peasants revolution he turned to "national" art. The original design for the mural in the National Palace showing Mexico as a gigantic woman holding a worker and a peasant in her arms was altered; for the worker and peasant, no doubt a painful sight o the government officials who pass the mural every day, were substituted harmless natural objects such as grapes and mangoes. Young art students who had been taught by Rivera to paint the life of the Indian masses, were now puzzled to hear him grow enthusiastic about colonial art, the art of the Spanish conquistadores, hated by the Indians and beloved by the reactionary and clerical elements. They were further puzzled to hear the master who had taught them that only by working in the Communist Party, in close contact with the masses, could they do great work, now teach that they ought to leave the Party, that the form of art is everything, the theme is nothing. Once, during the revolutionary period, the master had issues manifestos attacking studio and easel painting as bourgeois; now he was beginning to sell his talent to Chicago and California millionaires, whose wives he painted in yellow evening gowns with pretty little flowers in the corner of the canvas above his signature.

Rivera was the most striking but by no means the only example of the effect of the social struggle on art. Revolution and counter-revolution in Mexico had split the old Painters Syndicate, now dead as an organization. Orozco was in New York, disgusted with the political corruption of his country; Siquieros was absorbed in politics; Xavier Guerrero was in Moscow, done with art. Painting was dominated technically by Rivera and the academicians like Montenegro, and ideologically by the counter-revolution. Rivera, who had once served the revolution, now went to Cuernavaca to do a commission for Ambassador Morrow, whom the Party of which Rivera was a member was attacking as the representative of American imperialism. He even accepted a commission to paint murals for the Palace of Cortes in Cuernavaca, which, it is reported, Morrow predicted Rivera would accept since he was a Communist only "because he thought a red tie went well with a blue shirt." There were revolutionary artists in Mexico who thought they saw definite marks of decline in Rivera's technical skill as he abandoned his revolutionary faith and with frank cynicism accepted commissions which he despised both as an artist and as a man. But his technical degeneration was no immediate concern of the Communist Party. It had to deal with a political problem of which Rivera's activities as a painter were an expression. The problem was formulated in a resolution adopted by the Party in September 1929 on the expulsion of four members of the Central Committee, one of whom was Rivera, the first of which was as follows:

The terror in Mexico had been accompanied by an increase of pessimistic, opportunist, and liquidatory tendencies within the Communist Party. This was true not only among certain sections of the rank and file but even in a section of the leadership. Regardless of the different forms in which their liquidatory tendencies expressed themselves, the political basis and general position of Diego Rivera, ex-Senator Monzon, Fritz Bach and Reyes Perez were the same. All four refused to see the radical change which had taken place in the Mexican situation. They refused to admit the organization of the counter-revolutionary regime and the fascist persecution which are part of it by the government. They considered the persecutions of the Communist Party not as a plan of imperialism and bourgeoisie, consciously prepared and systematically practised, but as accidents, as "exceptional cases", independent, not carried out under pressure from the center, and in some cases merely as the caprice of some governor or fuctionary. Without taking into account the counter-revolutionary character of the government, Rivera and his colleagues reacted in a negative way to the Party's policy, and even carried on an open struggle against it. They continued to follow the opportunist line which the Party followed up to the rebellion, that is, of supporting the government, but which the Party had since abandoned. They believed it possible to avoid a frontal attack on the government, a line which in practice, became collaboration with the government of the national bourgeoisie and with imperialism. Under existing conditions this meant treason to the cause of the proletariat.

These four men (the resolution continued) even went so far as to falsify the policy indicated by Lenin regarding communist activities in relation to a national bourgeoisie fighting for the independence of its country against feudalism and imperialism. This policy means the communists support a national bourgeoisie when it is really revolutionary and anti-imperialist; it is an alliance during which the Communist Party must maintain its independence, criticizing the vacillations of the bourgeoisie. But Rivera and his colleagues falsified this theory; they failed to see the transformation of the Mexican bourgeoisie into a counter-revolutionary force; they demanded that the proletariat should renounce its leadership of the revolutionary struggle and the independent fight of the working masses. Furthermore, they called upon the Party to ally itself with the counter-revolutionary "left" bourgeois elements in the government. As a consequence of this reformist attitude, Rivera and his colleagues followed an opportunistic line toward the leaders of the urban and rural petit-bourgeoisie, which completed its historic role during the course of the 1910 revolution. Petit bourgeois leaders like Ramon de Negri and Marte Gomez remained in the government and supported its counter-revolutionary activities, de Negri as the co-author of the fascist labor code and the director of the anti-labor policy of the ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Labor; Gomez as director of the agricultural ministry's land policy. Despite the fact that these ministers had capitulated to imperialism (the resolution went on) Rivera and his colleagues urged the Party to adopt a policy of alliance and conciliation, a political bloc, with these elements. They refused to recognize that the bourgeoisie in power is already a counter-revolutionary force which favored American imperialism in order to consolidate its own power. The bourgeoisie sought to preserved in the working class the illusions created by "left" petit-bourgeois leaders like de Negri, Marte Gomez, and Tejeda, who, by their pseudo-revolutionary phrases shielded the bourgeoisie, which had lost among the workers and peasants the prestige upon which it relied during the revolutionary period. These "left" petit bourgeois leader stopped at nothing to prevent the radicalization of the masses, even threatening to create a "national communist" party of their own to cooperate with the fascist government. Toward such dangerous enemies of the working class, the Party could not accept the conciliatory line of Rivera and his colleagues, who had been corrupted by the government.

In addition to these general considerations, Rivera's expulsion from the Party was based on certain specific charges. Immediately after the termination of the March rebellion, the resolution explained, Rivera asked the Central Committee for a leave of absence on the grounds of ill health. At this time the government intensified its terror against the Party. Nevertheless, the Party did not object to a leave of absence. However, despite the Party's decision that a struggle must be carried on against the government and the "left" petit bourgeois leaders, Rivera not only maintained his friendship with the chief organizers of the counter-revolution, but participated in official actions with de Negri and Marte Gomez. At a time when the government was attacking communist organizations, imprisoning, deporting, and assassinating some of its leaders and confiscating its press, Rivera failed to join the Party in its struggle, but did find time to attend banquets given by students who supported the reactionary candidate for president of Mexico, Jose Vasconcelos. Furthermore, without Party permission, Rivera accepted a government post as head of the national school of fine arts. He refused to denounce the government for its atrocities against the workers and peasants until he had finished the mural at the national palace, which would take several years. He then frankly admitted that his bourgeois mode of life did not permit him to follow the Communist Party, which it was a mistake for him to have joined in the first place, and added that he preferred to be expelled than to sign a protest against the government or to resign as head of the fine arts school.

It is worth noting that neither the resolution nor the discussions preceding it referred to Trotzkyism. For two years after Trotzky's expulsion from the Russian Party, Rivera remained in the Central Committee of the Mexican party and supported its line. It was only after he was expelled that he discovered he was a "Trotzkyite". He issued a statement to the bourgeois press to that effect, ascribed his expulsion-quite falsely-to his Trotzkyist beliefs, and for the first time launched public attacks on the Soviet Union to the tune of "Thermidor". It is characteristic of a certain type of intellectual at this time to flaunt Trotzkyist colors; it enables him to pose as a communist without being one. In capitalist countries he can refrain from criticism of capitalism and indulge his "revolutionary" bent by attacking the Soviet Union.

The Trotzkyist label left Rivera free to pose as a "revolutionary" painter while glorifying Mexican chauvinism on the wall of the national palace and accepting commissions from the wealthy American bourgeoisie he once so savagely caricatured. For the past two years he has followed this path. These years have justified the analysis of the Mexican situation contained in the Party resolution which expelled him. The "left" petit bourgeois leaders like de Negri, Marte Gomez, and Portes Gil were indeed tools in the hands of the Mexican bourgeoisie and of American imperialism. But the bourgeois government which took power in January 1930 with Ortiz Rubio as its figurehead no longer needed them as camouflage. The "left: leaders were eliminated, and the bourgeois leaders took open control. There has followed a period of intense reaction in which greater and greater concessions have been made to American imperialism and in which the government no longer takes the trouble to disguise its attacks on the workers and peasants. Filled with the "revolutionary" spirit of his new Trotzkyist faith, Rivera made a pilgrimage to California, whose prisons still hold Tom Mooney, and painted a mural glorifying American business. The workers and farmers in this mural form one happy family with their exploiters. The State of California-a buxom wench-is the great mother of them all; the force of the revolutionary ideas which made the frescoes in the Secretariat great are lacking; instead, the artist resorts to anemic abstract symbolism, the necessary refuge of the bankrupt bourgeois artist.

There may be some readers who will look on Rivera's expulsion from the Communist Party as a political episode which has no bearing on his art. Such an attitude underestimates not only Rivera's dependence on social and political ideas, but fails to take into consideration that the conflicts of this epoch have compelled artists to take sides. If T.S. Eliot takes to royalism and anglo-catholicism, Allan Tate to "regionalism", Irving Babbit to Fascism, Dreiser to Communism, if the French surrealist painters and writers split into two political camps, it is because no man can create art without some belief, without a view of the world based on the life and aspirations of some social class; and since social classes are now engaged in sharp struggle, these views take on a militant political character. Cut off from the Communist Party, which leads the Mexican workers and peasants, Rivera was automatically cut off from the masses whose life and aspirations furnished him not only with the themes of his murals but with that faith and purpose which are indispensable to great art. When he began to paint insignificant portraits of bourgeois ladies and gentlemen, he severed the cord that bound him to millions of workers and peasants the world over upon whose revolutionary struggles his power as an artist rested.

Rivera himself must be conscious of this. How else can he explain the fact that the American bourgeoisie which neglected him at the height of his power, when he was a revolutionary artist, now coddles and lionizes him when his themes are banal and his technical skill rouses the contempt even of young art students. And how else can he explain that now, when the American bourgeoisie coddles and lionizes him, he should find it necessary to seek out the John Reed Club in New York, there to attempt some kind of justification of himself, to proclaim himself still a revolutionary painter and a communist, to revive his old slogan that only the revolution can inspire great art? Was he seeking publicity? Is there, perhaps a streak of the mountebank in the artist who, calling himself a Trotzkyite, at the same time flirts with the Communist Party? It would seem that whatever truth there may be in these suppositions, Rivera's chief problem as an artist is to regain the motive power of his art. The methods he has chosen so far will lead him nowhere, but amidst the sterility and aimlessness of his bourgeois "sucesss", he must realize that cut off from the revolutionary workers and peasants, he faces corruption as a man and bankruptcy as an artist.