June 15, 1933
Above we present the preliminary sketch of Rivera's mural in the Mexican National Palace and the central panel of the same as finally executed.
It was of this painting that Robert Evans (Joseph Freeman) wrote in the "New Masses" of February, 1932:
"The original design for the mural in the National Palace showing Mexico as a gigantic woman holding a worker and peasant in her arms was altered; for the worker-peasant no doubt a painful sight to the government officials who pass the mural every day, were substituted harmless natural objects such as grapes and mangoes."
But the final painting reveals:
1) no woman, holding grapes or mangoes. 2) a worker (alleged unbearable sight), standing next to martyrs of the Mexican revolution (the peasant leader Zapata, Felipe Carrillo, martyred leader of the Socialist Party of Yucatan, Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez, and Primo Tapia, Communist peasant leaders assassinated by the government). The worker is pointing out to them the road which the Mexican revolution must now follow. He points over the heads of Obregon and Calles to a panel at the extreme left in which is portrayed industrial Communism (Mexican workers at dynamos, cranes, Mexican peasants on tractors, people's schools and, surmounting all, a worker and peasant clasping hands.)
The fact that Freeman lied about grapes and mangoes and the elimination of worker and peasant in order to slander Rivera may seem in itself a petty matter. As to Freeman's remarks on the "awkwardness of the painter's draughtsmanship," "crude form," "technical skill (that rouses contempt from even young art students)," we leave that to art critics. But the fact is that Freeman's brazen falsehood, based on the belief that "New Masses" reader would never get to see the painting in Mexico is of a piece with the general slander methods of "political discussion" used by the official Communist Party today to justify and defend its false course whether in regard to artists and intellectuals or to trade unions, united front or party line.
For the party writers, the mere fact that Rivera is "expelled" justifies any falsehood, any slander. The result of this was the dilemma created for the party and the leaders of the John Reed Club when Rivera gave flaming expression to the impact of unemployment, war and class struggle in America upon him, in his murals in Radio City. When we called up the party for a united front, a spokesman on the other end of the wire expressed more interest in attacking Rivera than in fighting Rockefeller. The "Daily Worker" carried a shameful article by Robert Minor of the same tenor. According to Freeman's old article, Rivera could not have done anything for defending, for:
"Cut off from the Communist Party, Rivera was automatically cut off from the masses whose life and aspirations furnished him with the themes of his murals…
"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."
We do not wish to discuss here Rivera as a political figure. With his political line we are not in agreement. We have differences with him on many important questions. But we recognize him as one of the world's greatest artists, producing revolutionary art which speaks directly to the masses and furthers the cause of Communism art which, when our cause has triumphed, will live on as precious heritage of classless humanity.