THE NEW YORK TIMES January 3, 1932 DOESN'T HE LIKE RIVERA'S ART? To the Editor of the New York Times: I WONDER why you and some other American critics who so often dispose of the mere American artist with cruel injustice or indifference, find it necessary to apologize, as you did this morning [December 22] for Diego Rivera. You say, "of course, one must travel to Mexico to see Rivera in all his glory." I have traveled in Mexico and have worked there for two years, and I have never discovered such "glory." How do you know? I have followed your column for a long while and your articles on Mexican art have never given me the slightest indication that you have seen his murals there. And yet you are willing to call work you have never seen "stupendous"! What I have seen you ironically condemn time and time again in a mere American artist you seem to admire in Rivera, when you speak of the "products of his journeys up and down the world." In work so flat and uninspired it is difficult to see El Greco influence, although the Zuloaga, the Sorolla, the Cezanne, &c., are quite evident. It is difficult, too, to imagine that a critic is speaking with sincerity when he makes the statement that Rivera's cubist period not infrequently betters the instruction of Picasso." *** YOU have failed to even suggest in words what you nevertheless are forced to admit with the enumeration of facts, that Rivera has been a lifelong copyist-somersaulting from one influence to the next without shame or conscience. But where you entirely mislead the public, and this is due to your complete ignorance of the subject of Mexican art-is in speaking of his latest works and frescoes. You have not even attempted to point out the sources there-the last link in the long chain of copying and imitation. The Colonial Spanish portraits-absolute thefts! Many of the frescoes and drawings-a plain, frank stealing of archaeological and popular art motives. Another statement of yours to which the mere American artist may take exception in these days of neglect and starvation is your conclusion that "no exhibition in New York could possibly do the artist full justice and to reach a really satisfactory and definitive judgment without seeing these frescoes is impossible." The Museum of Modern Art has provided for this artist in a spectacular way. Studios, publicity, lectures, entertainment, every assistance and courtesy that time, money, social influence can possibly provide. It has turned over its entire establishment and its staff and its resources as it has done for no other living artist with the exception of the distinguished Matisse in his old age. And yet all this has left it impossible for the critic of THE NEW YORK TIMES to "reach a really satisfactory judgment"! If Rivera were the "great artist" that all the well-oiled publicity machines "whoop" him up to be, you should be able to get some inkling of it from this show. Our young artists are not being treated fairly. They read and often believe the critics. Let's have a little more honesty, a little more courage! Above all, let's have a little more justice. The truth is bound to leak out, and soon. Rivera's "greatness" lies in his ability to copy, imitate, adapt, assemble, arrange and rearrange the subjects and creations of other artists and to cover with inconsequential mediocre (although technically skillful) decorations a wall space that has never before in the history of art been given even to truly epoch-making creators. Mexico, for your information, differs somewhat from Renaissance Florence. In that fascinating "land of illusion" to the south of us the best politician, not necessarily the best artist, gets the walls. Herein lies Rivera's chief claim to "greatness." As a politician he is without a rival in the two Americas, more than a match for the naïve and uniformed critics of the "Big Town." JOHN J. MUNROE (The above valuation of Mr. Rivera's work may be accepted or rejected as the reader sees fit. Do we habitually "dispose of the mere American artist with cruel injustice and indifference"? Of "injustice" even the best intentioned critic in the world may, alas, be guilty. "Cruel injustice" and "indifference" put the matter in another light. However, this also may be left to the reader's discretion. - E.A.J. THE NEW YORK TIMES January 20, 1932 WANT NATIVE ART IN ROCKEFELLER CITY Students Protest on Hearing a Report That Rivera and Sert are to Paint Murals ARTISTS NOT YET CHOSEN Architect Promises Citizens Will Have an Equal if Not Better Chance for Commissions. 2 FOREIGNERS CRITICIZED Class at School for Social Research Declares Selection of Any Aliens for Building Here "Inconsistent." A protest against the employment of Diego Rivera, Mexican artist, and Jose Maria Sert, Spanish artist, to paint murals for buildings in Radio City will be made to John D. Rockefeller Jr. by a class of fifty art students in the New School for Social Research. The signers of the letter of protest are members in a class in pictorial analysis and creative practice under Ralph M. Pearson. In response to an inquiry, a spokesman of the Metropolitan Square Corporation, the Rockefeller holding company for the Radio City development, said that plans were being made for mural decorations "in keeping with the extensive exterior ornamentation in the form of illuminated fountains, trees and promenades." It was said that the murals would be executed by "outstanding artists," but that no contracts for such work had been awarded and no understanding reached with any artist. The art students' letter says that a report has reached them that Rivera and Sert would be employed to work in Radio City. Say Americans are Better "The commissioning of any foreign artist to paint murals for an American building is inconsistent with the achievement of a total harmony between form, function, decoration, and use," the protest declares. "Such a course is unnecessary on the ground of the quality and equipment of any foreign artist since we have artists as well equipped to interpret American life and build an interpretation into an architectural design as any nation, and much better equipped than are either Sert or Rivera. "The selection of well-publicized foreign artists for such a commission must be chiefly influenced by such publicity or by the fear of making a decision among less used and therefore less famous American artists." The students argue against the employment of Sert, who painted murals for the new Waldorf-Astoria, saying that he is "a naturalistic artist" who does not organize "the material of his picture into a form design in harmony with the form design of a building-a statement which is substantiated by his murals in the Waldorf-Astoria." "Also, his romantic attitude toward subject is hardly consistent with the realism characteristic of contemporary thought," they add. Rivera Called Inadequate "Rivera, though the simple two-dimensional pattern of his Mexican murals is highly successful as a native Mexican expression and well suited to its place and function in Mexico City, proves himself inadequate to the task of a more mature expression by his landscapes, portraits and New York City frescoes in the current exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. These works show weaknesses of three dimensional design knowledge which indicate the Mexican murals as being within a decorative stereotype perfected by years of practice and which, by their limitations, reveal the artist's inability to deal successfully with new material and new problems of design. "Also, this exhibition as a whole reveals an externalized approach to subject and an imposition of design on procedure based on a deeply felt identification with subject and the consequent sensitive and varied controls of subject and design into a more original expression. "We realize that the choosing of an American artist for so important a task as painting murals in Radio City is a difficult problem, with the difficulty increased by the fact that the creative, design-conscious artists who are best equipped for the work by their assimilation of modern knowledge are handicapped through lack of practice resulting from the infrequency of American commissions. "We do not believe that this difficulty is insurmountable. We trust that you will use your power to remedy this condition through the healthy process of collaboration between American architects, engineers and artists toward the achievement of a distinctive American style." Hood Reassures Americans The letter is addressed not only to Mr. Rockefeller but to Raymond Hood and associated architects in the Radio City development. When reached last night by telephone Mr. Hood said that while there probably would be murals in Radio City buildings, nothing definite had been decided about them and than in the eventual choice of artists natives would stand as good a chance as foreigners and probably better. Painters not only in this country but in all parts of the world have tried to obtain work in Radio City, Mr. Hood said, and in the development of a project of such an extent many unfounded rumors naturally have arisen. THE NEW YORK TIMES January 23, 1932 URGES NEUTRALITY IN RADIO CITY ART Director of the New School Takes Exception to Students' Attack on Foreigners SCORES CHAUVINISTIC VIEW Principle of "America for Americans" Has No Place in Art of Science, Dr. Johnson Declares If the builders of Radio City hold themselves to strict neutrality between Americans and foreigners in the selection of artists to paint murals for the new development, art will be best served, in the opinion of Dr. Alvin Johnson, director of the New School for Social Research. The plea of Dr. Johnson against a chauvinistic attitude toward art followed the publication of a protest made by a class of art students in the New School against the reported employment of Diego Rivera, Mexican artist, and Jose Maria Sert, Spanish artist, to paint murals in Radio City. Spokesmen for Radio City said that as yet no artists, foreign or American, had been selected. The protesting students were members of Ralph M. Pearson's class in pictorial analysis and creative practice. "We are individualists here at the New School," Dr. Johnson said, "and one man's opinion is as authentic an expression of the views of the institution as another's. But It is worth noting that most of us are decidedly proud of the fact that we have not only a room decorated with mural painting by the American, Thomas Benton, but also another with murals by Jose Clemente Orozco, the Mexican. No Objects to Opinions "I do not try to attempt to controvert the opinions of Mr. Pearson's art class in so far as they are based on the quality of work of Rivera and Sert as art. In so far as they are based on the principle 'America for the Americans' I take violent exception to them. The principle has worked sufficient mischief in the field of industry. It is a thousand pities that it should intrude itself into the field of art and science." Art in its great periods has been hospitable to the talented stranger, Dr. Johnson pointed out. "This was true of the greatest period of Greek art; it was true of the Renaissance. When we recover our prosperity I hope that we may attract to America, at least for temporary residence, all the talent in the world. I doubt that our own native talent will suffer in the least from the competition; on the contrary, the collective impetus should go far toward establishing art in its rightful place as a major social interest. "I quite agree that we are still too Colonial-minded to recognize fully the value of the best American work. The Paris hallmark still counts for too much with us. "It may be that we have native artists who would do better murals in Rockefeller City than any available foreigners. Those who are responsible for the project are under obligation to seek out such artists if they are to be found. What is done in so stupendous a building project is certain to exert a powerful influence throughout the country, and this influence ought to operate toward a more sincere and significant art. But this service will be best performed if the builders of Rockefeller City hold themselves to a strict neutrality as between native and foreign masters." Why Not Go Further? If there is discrimination between Americans and foreigners, should there not also be discrimination between native born and naturalized, between first-generation native and second, third, and fourth generation, Dr. Johnson asked. "One could make plausible argument for such discrimination. Thomas Benton and Mark Twain could not have attained their common quality of frank delight in the harsh American light without a dozen generations of Americans behind them. What they contribute is something new and important. "But what is more important than the American flavor is the common Atlantic culture that we all enjoy; and most important of all is art itself, in which the whole world shares. By insisting nationalistically upon the values of a limited order, we run the risk of losing the vastly more significant universal values." THE NEW YORK TIMES January 24, 1932 Edward Alden Jewell TWO CORNERS ARE TURNED … Now about those plans for Radio City. Once more rumor is not to be kept at bay, though in this case one most ardently hopes that it may prove to have drawn its ammunition from thin air. The report got about, at any rate, that contracts for all the mural work in the new Rockefeller development of Fifth Avenue are being handed over to foreign artists, such names as Diego Rivera and Jose Maria Sert figuring prominently in the list of prospective recipients. When Raymond Hood, one of the associated architects in charge, was reached on the phone last Tuesday evening by the news department, he intimated that such rumors as this one deserve nothing more encouraging than a cold shoulder. While there probably would be murals in Radio City, he said, nothing definite as yet had been decided about them. As a matter of fact, native artists stood as good a chance as foreign artists. Indeed, it was quite possible that Americans stood the best chance of all. So, pending actual news of the signing of contracts, that is that. But the students in Ralph Pearson's class at the New School for Social Science had not been reassured by Mr. Hood. They were still in the tenacious clutches of Rumor. And the thought of what might be transpiring behind the doors of architectural sanctums proved too much for them to bear in silence. They didn't want to see the art of Senor Rivera or of Senor Sert on the walls of Radio City. They wanted American art to have its long withheld chance. And they drew up the protest and plea, addressed to Mr. Rockefeller and the architects, which appeared in the news columns of THE TIMES last Wednesday morning. With the students' evaluation of the art of Rivera and of Sert we are not in agreement-not wholly, that is. It will not be necessary at this writing to go into the question raised as to whether Rivera's frescoes are restricted to two-dimensional pattern. Do these frescoes reveal "an externalized approach to subject and an imposition of design on subject rather than the opposite procedure based on deeply felt identification with subject and the consequent sensitive and varied controls of subject and design into a more original expression"? This involves a discussion of the whole purpose of mural art, which may advantageously be taken up on another occasion. Meanwhile, though agreeing that Rivera's frescoes built on New York themes are (especially the "Frozen Assets" and "Electric Power") inferior to the frescoes built on Mexican themes, the writer is glad to repeat an opinion, previously discussed: that Diego Rivera is one of the most accomplished artists of our time. He is by all means qualified to decorate the walls of Radio City. As regards to Jose Maria Sert, the open letter addressed to Mr. Rockefeller maintains that the Spanish artist is "thoroughly inadequate as a mural painter because he is a naturalistic artist incapable of organizing the material of his picture into a form of design in harmony with the dorm design of a building-a statement which is substantiated by his murals at the Waldorf-Astoria. Also his romantic attitude toward the subject is hardly consistent with the realism characteristic of contemporary thought." *** HOW do these students know that Senor Sert is "incapable of organizing the material of his picture into a form design in harmony with the form design of a building"? The Waldorf murals are not to be brought forward as instancing any such incapacity on Sert's part. He was not asked to harmonize his murals with the building but only to produce a unified room-which he has done to perfection. Sert, like Rivera, is a first-rate artist; one as thoroughly qualified to paint decorations for Radio City. Nothing is gained by attempting to play down the artistic merits of these two artists who have already amply proved what they can do. On the other hand, the real point of the communication deserves hearty support. Radio City ought to be decorated by American artists, not because foreign artists are unequipped to paint murals for an American building that would prove "consistent with the achievement of a total harmony between form, function, decoration and use," but because we have artists who are admirably prepared for a task that rightfully belongs to them. Were it a case of choosing between inadequate native artists and superlatively endowed artists of other nations, there could be but one alternative. However, such is not the case. On what American artists might the builders of Radio City safely call? It would take much time and thought to draw up an exhaustive list. As a starter one enthusiastically recommends Thomas Benton and Boardman Robinson, both of whom have already painted distinguished murals. Then there is William Yarrow, who seems to have a true feeling for this sort of work. And there might well be room for a series of Augustus Vincent Tack's decorative abstractions. An invitation to American artists would be pretty sure to result in the submitting of worthy projects. And it is high time that our artists should be given an opportunity to collaborate, on a big scale, with architects and engineers, all striving honestly to bring to crystallization "a distinctive American style." A short time ago Raymond Hood, speaking at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is reported to have said that "a famous California philosopher" had been asked to write an essay depicting a man as a creative animal and that artists would be commissioned to illustrate this essay in painting and sculpture. No names were mentioned. Who is the famous Californian philosopher and, if the proposal has been correctly quoted, what sort of essay will he write on man as a creative animal? This is something to ponder. Such an essay might well turn out to be just the thing needed for the walls of Radio City. Then again (dealing entirely with conjecture) it might turn out to be just the wrong thing. We must solicit the full connivance of patience, refusing prematurely to harass our minds with memories of the mural horrors that have frown out of misty symbolic generalizations in the past. Theme is going to be an item of the utmost consequence. Given an inspiring theme, one that does not tempt or coerce an artist into windy bombast or sweet drivel, and given artists capable of making a theme live, the walls of Radio City ought to prove enduring monuments. The way is sewn with pitfalls, but no danger need be unsurmountable. The petition from students in the New School, so far as concerns the real pith of its substance, evidences a healthy sentiment that no doubt will meet with wide public sympathy. There should be no jingle-jangle of narrow patriotism about this business. The petition at hand is not a patrioteering tract. It merely posits the reasonable expectation of American artists; an expectation that deserves a hearing and that not doubt will be weighed according to its merits. THE NEW MASSES, vol. 7 February 1932 Robert Evans (Joseph Freeman) 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. THE NEW MASSES, vol. 7 February 1932 John Reed Club of New York Diego Rivera and the John Reed Club On January 1, the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, was the speaker at a public meeting arranged by the John Reed Club of New York. The invitation was extended to him hastily on the basis of his former record as a revolutionary artist and as a result that he was seeking to return to the revolution path which he had deserted when the terror against Mexican workers and peasants was launched in 1929. At this time, the Club without investigation or proper consideration had also accepted a $100 contribution from Rivera. The January 1 meeting, instead of coming up to the expectations of many members of the John Reed Club, proved to be an attempt by Rivera to achieve a personal triumph. In his speech, he made no mention of his own unprincipled activities as a supporter of American imperialism and its tool, the Calles Government. Rivera was exposed as a renegade and a counter-revolutionist, who since 1929 has deliberately and without hesitation used the influence he obtained as a Communist and working class leader to play the game of Wall Street and its Fascist Government in Mexico. It was also shown that Rivera's renegacy has been reflected in his art, which has grown increasingly sterile as he has drawn further away from the working class, which once made him articulate and which transformed a feeble imitator of Picasso into a powerful artist of the Revolution. Rivera, not only refused to renounce such artistic manifestations of his capitulation to the bourgeoisie as his San Francisco stock exchange murals with their vulgar glorification of American capitalism, but even attempted a specious, profoundly counter-revolutionary and patently dishonest "leftist" defense of them. This, of course, was immediately and decisively exposed by members of the John Reed Club as reactionary art. The John Reed Club recognizes that it was a serious error to have invited Diego Rivera and provided him a forum for his opportunism. Rivera was branded as a renegade from the revolutionary movement at the Kharkov Conference of revolutionary writers and artists held in November, 1930, and is so characterized in the report of the American delegation to that conference, printed in the February, 1931, issue of New Masses. The club should therefore have investigated carefully before opening its doors to this intimate of Dwight Morrow and cultural agent of American imperialism. Since the John Reed Club meeting Rivera, who professes to be an adherent of Trotsky, has further proved his "revolutionary" character by speaking before the Lovestone group of renegades from Communism, before the social-fascist Rand School, and various bourgeois circles. The John Reed Club declares that the ideals for which it stands, have nothing in common with the "ideals" of the man who sold out everything for which he had stood for a job with the Mexican government. We therefore call upon writers, artists, and other cultural workers to repudiate this unprincipled demagogue and to expose him at every opportunity. Since we do not wish to carry on our activities with the money of a renegade, the John Reed Club will return Rivera's $100 contribution, with which he hoped to buy himself that revolutionary cloak which he needs to serve his capitalist masters effectively. THE NEW YORK TIMES October 10, 1932 ROCKEFELLER CITY GETS ALIEN ARTISTS Frank Brangwyn, Jose Maria Sert and Diego Rivera to Do Nine Mural Panels. UNUSUAL DECORATIVE PLAN Paintings Will Be Done on Canvas and Will Be Hung in Main Corridor of RCA Building. The first foreign artists chosen to participate in the extensive ornamentive program for the eleven buildings in Rockefeller Center were announced yesterday. Sponsors of the $250,000,000 mid-town commercial and amusement enterprise reported that "three of the foremost living mural painters," Frank Brangwyn of England, Diego Rivera of Mexico, and Jose Maria Sert of Spain, had been commissioned to execute the nine large panels which will form the decorative feature of the main corridor in the seventy-story RCA Building. The corridor, which is 150 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 25 feet high, offers the largest single expanse in the Rockefeller development for interpreting the ornamentive theme centering around "New Frontiers," or moving forces in modern civilization. Appointment of Brangwyn, Sert and Rivera attracted added interest because of the protest registered several months ago in some art circles here over the report that foreign artists would receive a large part of the sculptural and mural work in Rockefeller Center. The developers explained that some foreign artists would be employed, in keeping with the "international character" of the project, but that most of the work would go to the native artists. Since then the names of more than a score of Americans commissioned to execute various units in the decorative scheme have been announced. An unusual decorative layout has been planned to exhibit the panels effectively. They will be concentrated on the walls of the elevator banks in the center of the corridor. The floor will be laid in black terrazzo, and the outer walls to a height of seven and one-half feet in Champlain black marble. The remainder of the walls and the ceiling will be finished in deep ivory tone. Rivera's mural, to appear opposite the main entrance on the first elevator bank, will be sixty-three feet long and seventeen feet high. It will show "man at the crossroads looking with uncertainty but with hope and high vision to the choosing of a course leading to a new and better future." Sert's four panels will express man's new mastery over the material universe, through his power, will, imagination and genius. Brangwyn's pieces depict man's new relationship to society and his fellow man-his family, his relationships as a worker, as part of government, and his ethical or religious relationships. Each of the two latter panels will measure about twenty-five by seventeen feet. The paintings will be done on canvas and put in place after completion. The first sketches will be ready about Dec. 1 and the finished murals are scheduled to be delivered next April. THE NEW YORK TIMES December 23, 1932 DESCRIBES 9 MURALS FOR RCA BUILDING R.M. Hood, Architect, Home on the Rex After Conferring With Painters in Europe Raymond M. Hood, architect, one of the designers of Rockefeller Center, returned yesterday on the Italian liner Rex after a brief visit to France and England, where he visited two of the three foreign artists working on mural panels which will form the decorative feature of the main corridor in the seventy-story RCA Building. The artists, Jose Maria Sert and Frank Brangwyn, have completed their sketches for eight of the nine murals and are at work on the panels themselves. Mr. Hood saw them for the first time and was able to describe the pictorial narratives of the series as conceived by the two artists. The ninth panel, the largest, is being executed by Diego Rivera, Mexican artist. Both Mr. Brangwyn and Mr. Sert are doing a series of four, about seventeen square feet each, and Mr. Rivera's is to be about 50 feet by 17. Mr. Brangwyn's subjects, he said, symbolize the ethical, while those of Mr. Sert represent the material and physical progress in world development. Mr. Rivera will treat the social aspects of world growth. The Spanish painter, whom Mr. Hood visited in Paris, has panels picturing the development of power and force, the overcoming of disease and pestilence, and the abolition of slavery. His fourth panel is based on the accomplishment of peace and the ending of men's wars. Mr. Brangwyn, who is working in England, will express the nascent perfections of life, then the entrance of evil and the advent of law and order in the scheme of life, and finally the later preachings of life and the spiritual growth of man. Mr. Rivera's larger panel will outline the development of social man to measure with the growth of the physical. Mr. Hood said his descriptions were perforce more generalities, but they present a general view of the purpose of the eight-fold panel series. The work will be completed in time for placing after the building is finished in May. THE NEW YORK TIMES March 21, 1933 DIEGO RIVERA ARRIVES Diego Rivera, Mexican Artist, arrived in New York yesterday with his wife Frieda Rivera, and two assistants, Ernest Halberstabt and Andrew Sanchez Flores, to begin work on his large mural in the main hall of the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center. The party came from Detroit, where Rivera completed frescoes for the Art Institute. The Rockefeller mural will be 63 feet long and 17 feet high covering the east wall of the elevator bank and extending around on the north and south walls. Companion murals by Frank Brangwyn of England and Jose Maria Sert of Spain will complete the art work in the main hall. The Rivera work will depict "human intelligence in control of the forces of nature." THE NEW YORK TIMES March 23, 1933 ART LEADERS HERE SIDE WITH RIVERA Sloan Declares Those Who See Blasphemy in Mural Are Themselves Guilty "REVERENCE FOR LIFE" This Is Quality That Stands Out In Panel Attacked by Religious Groups, in Pach's Opinion The murals recently completed by Diego Rivera in the Detroit Institute of Arts will not be white-washed without provoking indignation among artists here, it appeared yesterday from comments by persons well known in the art field. Although varied points of view were expressed by individual artists and officers of organizations, the burden was in opposition to the group in Detroit that is agitating for the removal or whitewashing of the murals. Dispatches from Detroit have reported that the frescoes recently completed by Rivera, widely known Mexican artist, have aroused the ire of Catholics, who called them irreligious and charged that one painting in particular, the "Vaccination" panel, was a caricature of the Holy Family. Rivera, who has come to New York to begin work on a mural painting for the Rockefeller Center, denied the charge in an interview here. The "Vaccination" panel portrays a child, supported at the left by a nurse in uniform, wearing a nurse's cap which, antagonists of the picture charge, resembles a nimbus. At the right of the panel appears a physician administering vaccine to the child. This figure has been represented by opponents of Rivera as intended to caricature Joseph, as they charge, the other figure represents the Virgin. Above these figures appear three scientists engaged in research, who have been likened to the three wise men. At the bottom of the canvas are animals, said by Rivera to suggest only the source of the vaccine, but by his opponents to represent animals usually portrayed in representation of the Holy Family in the stable. Artists Come to His Defense The Museum of Modern Art here came to Rivera's defense with a statement. Holger Cahill, its director of exhibitions, said: "I have not seen the Rivera murals in Detroit, but I have the highest opinion of Diego Rivera's talent and his integrity as an artist. The Museum of Modern Art has already expressed its opinion of Diego Rivera's work in giving him a one-man show, which was held in the Winter of 1931, in the catalogue of that exhibition, and in the portfolio of color reproductions of his Mexican murals, which the museum published two weeks ago." John Sloan, president of the Society of Independent Artists, expressed the opinion that since Rivera did not intend any caricature of the Holy Family, those who read sacrilege into the work were really themselves guilty of sacrilege. To whitewash the paintings, Mr. Sloan contended, would only attract more attention to them. "Reverence for Life." Walter Pach, artist, critic and writer, said that he had seen the paintings and had studied the "vaccination" mural particularly. "The statement that the paintings are irreligious is utterly absurd," he said, "The feeling that one gets from them is reverence for life. I think there is no allusion whatever to the Holy Family. If these paintings are whitewashed, nothing can ever be done to whitewash America." Charles C. Curran, secretary of the National Academy of Design, said that although he could not speak for the academy, he felt as an individual artist that the extent of the opposition to the pictures should determine one's point of view regarding them. "Although we cannot adjust our art standards to the average public taste, for this is a young country in which popular taste is not yet very high, I feel that if the majority of the people are offended by a painting, the painting may be wrong and not the people," he said. Dr. William H. Fox, director of the Brooklyn Museum, said that, although he had not seen the paintings in Detroit, he knew Rivera to be a serious artist, and could not impute to him any intention of caricaturing religious sentiment. "To whitewash the paintings would be going to extremes," said Dr. Fox, "It does not seem to me that this would be the proper way for opponents to the paintings to show their grievance." Leon Kroll, a member of the National Academy of Design and president of the American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, expressed the opinion that since the art commission of Detroit had accepted Rivera's designs for the murals before he started painting, there should be no ground for complaint now. "Under the circumstances," said Mr. Kroll, "I think that our society would support Mr. Rivera." THE NEW YORK TIMES March 26, 1933 Bitter Controversy is Raging in Detroit Over Rivera Murals in the Institute of Art The accompanying illustration is from a photograph of "Vaccination," which precipitated a bitter controversy in Detroit over the entire series of murals painted in the garden court of the Detroit Institute of Arts by the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. Catholic groups attacked the panel as a caricature of the Holy Family and demanded its removal. The artist denied this, asserting that he had rather tried to sanctify science as contributing to the saving of life. Other panels were attacked as Communist propaganda, and the City Council has been urged to order the paintings removed from the walls. Rivera does not lack supporters, however, among them being many leading artists, Dr. W.R. Valentiner, director of the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and Edsel Ford, who gave the paintings to the city. THE ART DIGEST April 1, 1933 The Mexican Muralists Maybe Anglo-Saxon Americans instinctively, and racially, dislike the brick-red pigments and the Mestizo conception of form that characterize the work of the Mexican muralists, Rivera, Orozco, and Siquieros. No man, and no race, is responsible for the shape, composition and velocity of blood corpuseles,--they are inherited. The Mexican muralists have been welcomed to America by the spirit of revolt. Rockefellers and Fords helped. Maybe these Mexicans are not producing for the United States the sort of beauty that can thrill its people. But if these muralists, who produced for Mexico an art that is intensely Mexican, that therefore perfectly expresses Mexico, can inspire American painters to create an art that as perfectly, and with equal vitality, reflect America rather than Europe, they will be entitled to a place of supreme honor in American art history. THE NEW YORK TIMES April 2, 1933 DIEGO RIVERA: FIERY CRUSADER OF THE PAINT BRUSH As He Starts His Radio City Murals He Is Again the Center of Heated Controversy-A Picture of the Man at Work And an Interview in Which He Sets Forth His Philosophy of Art and Describes the Things That Inspire Him by ANITA BRENNER DIEGO Rivera is again the center of a raging controversy, and his new job at the RCA Building in the Rockefeller Center is likely to prove another. For the story of his life and the story of his work is a story of controversies, in which, like Bernard Shaw, he accumulates scalps and glory, and, as with Shaw, time skewers his dragon and blurs the issue. To hundreds and perhaps thousands of people Rivera has become a Cause and they an army of defense. New converts entering the ranks via platforms, radio broadcasts and the printed page swell the excited crowds that push daily into the court of the Detroit Art Institute, where the Rivera murals, now under fire, are to be seen. All beholders are roused by this work to some intensity of emotion and too much vociferation; so that if words were bullets these walls would now be plowed beyond recognition, but there would have been considerable slaughter first. The age of science which he is to forecast and glorify on the main wall of the RCA tower building separates Diego Rivera from the flowing mane and the exclamatory tie that trademarked the artist in other days. He has left what bohemian uniform he may have wore in the Madrid cafes of his youth to the memories of his friends; and his life, spanning the shift from the tinted decades to the tense and dizzy present of a world conditioned by electricity, represents also the emancipation of the artists from his studio, and gives some notion of the function of the artist in the future, serving industry and science as in other days Leonardo and Cellini served the Borgias and their God. He has left, too, in the first years of his decade as a muralist, the picturesque armor in which, as a member of the now famous Syndicate of Painters, Sculptors and Intellectual Workers, he fought his first battles on behalf of the Mexican Renaissance. The proof of victory is the spread of the mural movement from Mexico City through California to New York, but Rivera has conceded to another environment his huge black Stetson, heavy khaki shirt, big stick and cartridges and gum, as well as something over a hundred pounds of formidable avoirdupois. His wife and Marx, he says, have cured him of the flamboyant imagination which in other days built blithe and logical pyramides of theory and took him on impossibly probable adventures to all quarters of the globe, including also the kingdom of the dead and stopping hardly short of the moon and Mar. In the ordered chaos enclosed by the steel and concrete of the RCA, pivot of Radio City, Rivera merges with the plasterers, the casual foremen, the workmen straddling beams and boisting weights and hammering, chiseling, scraping, the art full of dust and din. *** RIVERA'S "shack", in the engineers, camp on the open mezzanine, looks exactly like the fram hut of the blueprint man on any big construction job, and inside, with its jars of distilled water, its rolls of paper, its cupboard full of bottles and boxes and its rough table covered with draftsmen's plans and draftsmen's instruments, is as far from the romantic garret consecrated to art as the job itself is from the South Sea island of refugees from the machine age: closer, in spirit, to the busy shops in which the Italian Renaissance was made. The maestro-which in Spanish means the master builder, master cobbler, master bricklayer, expert tailor (skilled worker, in short) as well as master painter and master musician and teacher-is to be identified as the large man sitting on a plank supported by steel scaffolding, presumably with a brush or crayon in his hand, and also by the small congress of admirers and observers with passes in their hands respectfully gazing up at his bulk and carrying on a brisk conversation with him, for Rivera has never been without a loyal and enthusiastic audience, mostly young. This for eight, twelve, fourteen hours a day. His wife complains that his lunch and dinner grow cold on the plank beside him, and once on a big job he worked so long that he fell exhausted from the scaffold and hurt himself badly. In a restaurant, because of his Roman look and his stamp of a man accustomed to a public, you would take him for a Senator or an operatic star. Brushing by him in the street, you would think he was most likely an inventor. Close up, the mixed bloods in his veins and the cosmopolitan weave of his life might give you some clue to the total: the suave, large build and the jowl of an Italian; the quick, plausible tongue and scholastic air of a Spaniard; the skin and small square hands of a Mexican Indian; the bold, intelligent and wary eyes of a jew; the easy manner and quick interest of a man of culture and curiosity; the silences of a Russian and a man of intellect; the shade of melancholy of the sensitive human animal in some incomprehensible zoo; and the thing that is Rivera uniquely, a generous kind of charm, an oiled wit, and a way of dovetailing his notions to his audience that gives every hearer a man-to-man status. He has nothing, he insists, of an Anglo-Saxon. *** RIVERA says that if he were to live over again, with other professions to choose from, he would still be a painter, because, although he is fascinated most of all by industrial science and admires nothing so much as a machine, he feels that he himself can function, in his work and with his mind, with the precision and efficiency of a machine, and without "the dead weight of invested capital". To him the United States expresses its creative force and its sense of beauty through machines and through the scientific research that creates machines-"in general, all the creation of American engineering, which is the real artistic expression of the genius of this part of the world. Though, indeed, the majority of the American intelligentsia still denies this fact." A work of art that is not made "exactly within the same laws as a machine is a bad work of art.*** Beauty and mechanics are synonymous. This axion fortunately begins to make itself felt in the work of some architects, plenty of photographers and cinematographers, and some painters-Marin, Benton, Robinson, Billings, Miller, Ben Shahn, Nash, Wanda Gag, Stuart Davis, William Siegel-and others whom I cannot enumerate but of whose value I am sure". Rivera hopes and believes that the American ideal of beauty is the "Washington Bridge, a trimotor, a good automobile or any efficient machine *** which means not 'influence' but creative power. Happily," he adds, "the ideal of beauty contained in the art galleries and the antique shops is, I hope, the ideal of a minority, under the influence of the worst of European bad taste." As to human beauties, he does not think that the movie stars represent the American ideal, "unless, of course, you include Mae West, who is the most wonderful machine for living I have known-unfortunately on the screen only-and who shares the genius of Charlie Chaplin." *** In a way he considers it part of his job in the world to interpret America to Americans, and by America he means the continent. The emphatic part played by ideas in all of his murals indicates that even though, if he started to live his life over again, he would live it still as a painter, the philosopher pilot seeks his intellectual motor. He seeks, he says, to express the emotions that the rhythm of universal life produces in him, "putting it entirely at the service of my class-the workers-because in serving my class I serve myself." Rivera feels that if his work had no esthetic value outside of the ideas expressed through it he would not be "given commissions by those who, naturally, are not interested in making propaganda"; yet he says also that the esthetic value of a work of art exists in direct proportion to the intensity of its political-social content. "This," he explains, "is the spring that moves the artist, and the stronger the result the better; but such a work contains also a proportional expression of the universal harmonic rhythm which is what we call beauty, and this remains over and above, the different dialectic modes of its political-social content. That is why we have the sensation of beauty with the marvelous drawings in Neolithic caverns and with the works of art springing from political-social theogonies which have nothing to do with us anymore. "But that work of art which contains most completely and most intensely the expression of our own political-social forces, and succeeds in expressing, too, the universal rhythm, will be more valuable to us than any work of art of the past. And, naturally, it will be attacked by all those who represent stoppage and retrogression within the historical process of our day." *** THOUGH the modern age has made his a Hegelian Marxist, had Rivera lived three hundred years or a thousand years ago he would still have been a philosopher. His is the type of mind that must have order in the universe. It is predominantly the qualities springing from his urge to organize and order the world in his mind that have fed the fame of his work: his power of organizing complex and numerous forms into a coherent whole on a grand scale, praised as a genius for "composition," and, paralleling this formal order, his structure of ideas, expressed realistically, like a pictograph, but containing like a hieroglyph abstract implications that fit with each other to express a philosophic, and behind that a metaphysical, whole. Rivera's art, while it provides for connoisseurs the pleasures of rhythm and color and form which they find in any other admired artist, and for the simple of heart and every day world as plain as a poster, contains also, to the satisfaction and glee of those who make and unmake the world in the clear cold depth of abstract ideas, a springboard to thought, and the mysterious delights of multiple meanings, like a box within a box, within a box endlessly. *** THE smooth mechanics of his mind order, too, the way in which he works, dynamically fed by the "juice" of his famed energy, efficiency and industry. Every move in his job, from the rough block of his first sketches to the cool texture of the finished wall, is planned and carried out in an orderly manner from his hand to the hands of his assistants. First the sketches are made, then drawn to scale on large sheets, then traced with a perforator, fastened in place, dusted with charcoal and removed, leaving the outlines of the mural on the bare wall. He makes his changes on the basis of how the wall looks then. The fresco preparation-sand and lime-is laid on in sections and the drawing corresponding to each section is again "dusted" on. The wall is then ready for paint (earth and water); this must be laid on while the plaster is still fresh and cannot be easily changed once it is dry. The amount of space to be covered each time is carefully calculated according to the time which the painter expects to spend and according also to the natural architectural divisions of the composition and the wall itself. Each of his assistants, who are usually students or technicians, knows his job and does it quickly and well. Arthur Neindorff, a Texan who went to Hollywood as a song-writer and ended up in San Francisco working with Rivera on his mural at the Stock Exchange, has charge of the "dusting" and puts on the fresco foundation. Andrea Sanchez Flores, a Mexican who worked in the sugar fields and in the Detroit automobile factories and meanwhile studied chemistry, sees to it that the water has no organic matter and that the paints have been tested for injurious chemical reactions. Five student painters work out the rest of the preparations. They are Dimitroff, a Bulgarian who studied in Chicago and worked at the Detroit Institute of Arts; Hideo Noda, a Japanese pupil of Arnold Blanch; Lucienne Bloch, painter and sculptress, daughter of the composer of the American Symphony; Ben Shahn and Lou Bloch. Rivera considers that although every work of art represents a collective contribution, a work to which more than one person has distributed labor is always superior to a purely individual product; and that is why, he says, he prefers mural paintings. *** RIVERA develops this idea by saying that the art of the future cannot be individualistic because mankind is moving more and more, compelled by technological advancement, toward collective social forms, "and the artist who does not express this won't be even an artist." The greatest value of individualism, he says, is "to be an efficient person within the old social order-a negative value. Therefore in the field of art it cannot produce anything but ugliness and mediocrity; it is enough to examine the artistic production in all the countries of the globe today to testify that there isn't a single exception to this rule." Besides the students and technicians who assist directly in the work of painting the murals, Rivera has other collaborators in the scientific world: the professors of radiotherapy at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Centre, who place their machines and their slides at his disposal for sketching; the professor of pediatrics at Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, who is lending Rivera laboratory room in which to examine bacterial slides microscopically; the physicist who will guide him in the world of television; the students, men of science, intellectual and manual workers who will pose for portraits to form part of his mural ensemble. These latter, Rivera says, are the critics whose praise he most values and whose observations he most needs. In creating his industrial mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts he was most anxious to have things "right" in the eyes of the engineers, the foremen, and the skilled and unskilled labor at the Ford Plants. *** THE murals in the RCA Building will occupy the front and flank walls from some feet above the ground to the bridge mezzanine, a total of 1,071 square feet. The front wall, facing Fifth Avenue and approached from a sunken plaza, will be the only one in color. The side panels wrap back at right angles and are separated by a bridge from Brangwyn's chiaroscuro on the left, and Sert's on the right. The scheme is Rivera's, and the theme, to be developed as a whole by the three painters, was decided upon by the RCA art commission. Brangwyn is to portray the ethical evolution of mankind, from primitive society to the institutions of the family, religion and government. Rivera's side panel continues this idea and is to depict the liquidation of superstition by science. The main figure in this composition is a Jove whose thunderbolt has been replaced by the ray of modern physics; the instruments, machines and people representing the present and future value of the ray to humanity complete the picture, which focuses interest mainly on the figure of the man of science, who teaches, on a Darwinian basis, the history of humanity. This idea was inspired, says Rivera, by a speech of Jefferson's praising Benjamin Franklin as the man "who snatched the bold from heaven and the sceptre from the tyrant." The panel on the right continues Sert's, which will describe the technological development of mankind from crude stone implements to the scientific instrument and the machine. Rivera develops on this premise his panel portraying the emancipation of mankind through technology. This panel is built around the figure of a Roman tyrant with a fascio-ancient symbol of authority-destroyed by a mechanic drill. A skilled worker takes possession of the world, which is spread out mapped on an electric motor, and his companions are shown, says Rivera, "inheriting the earth." The main wall is given over to the future as seen from the present by the RCA art commission: "Man at the crossroads, facing the future with uncertainty but with hope, looks toward a better solution." Man, in Rivera's concept, is a skilled workman-a steel man, occupying the centre of the composition between two giant lenses which cut across each other: one, the telescope and the cosmic world; the other, the microscope and the infinitely small forms which in movement and form repeat the cosmic motif. Only the lower part of the telescope is seen, on a heroic scale; this is calculated to carry the image upward, beyond the limits of the panel, giving the sense of the height of the building, and is also an indication of its purpose and pivotal industrial and architectural character. In the background cinema and television lenses show the historical events projected by technological and scientific advancement. Above, on the right, soldiers wearing gas masks, armed with flame bombs and backed by tanks and airplanes face, on the left, a mass demonstration. Below, on the right, a procession of unemployed face a group of students of every race in a city fully developed industrially and set in fertile fields. In the extreme foreground, below, a horizontal panel is filled with a representation of the earth as an open book, with the chief elements of organic life in geological strata on its pages and plants sprouting on the soil surface. *** RIVERA fully expects to have many critics disagree with the social-political contents of his work. But he is accustomed to attack, for every reason, from the faces of his statuesque females to the plain allegory of the whole, and also, indeed, for implications which he never intended and does not himself see in his work. Since the days when he felt that he needed a gun to defend his painting he has been attacked from all sides and for numerous reasons: in Mexico, for painting Indians instead of "decent" whites; in Cuernavaca, for portraying the conquest as a brutal sack; in this country for a panel done in Mexico depicting the billionaires-among the Rockefeller and Ford-starving on gold around a centrepiece of ticker-tape; in Detroit, for depicting what looks like a Holy Family with a doctor vaccinating the child, and the traditional animals-providers of serum-in the foreground; and for what the churchmen and women who are antagonized by his views call "rank communism." From the artistic point of view his enemies in Detroit complain that his work there, which is a glorification of the steel industry that has made Detroit and modern civilization what it is, lacks spiritual content and is hard and cold. To this Rivera answers that he paints what he sees, and that he sees automobiles and workers every day but he never sees spirits; and that steel is also hard and cold. The Fords, father and son, say they admire the murals, which were a $25,000 gift to the city of Detroit from Edsel Ford. *** FACED directly with the question of whether or no he is a Communist, Rivera replied that he is not, for he has been expelled from the Communist part; but pressed as to whether or no he has painted the "Philosophy of Moscow" on the walls of the Detroit Art Institute, he answered, "Of course, because it is the only ultimate form of social life among civilized people." This answer puts Edsel Ford in the curious position of an enemy of capitalism. It also puts the Rivera frescoes in danger of being destroyed, a fact which worries the artist considerably, because he says they are the best thing he has done. Otherwise, Rivera says he takes a good deal of pleasure in being attacked. "Success," he explains, "consists in expressing my emotions and sensations in work with the content I wish to put into it. The only proof I can have of achieving this is the human repercussion my work can cause; sympathy from those for whom I work---the manual and intellectual producers-and hostility and attack from the enemies of the workers and the mentally and esthetically backward; so that the greater the attack, for me, the greater the success-as for every man who wishes to do something useful." Moreover, he remarks that there is illustrious precedent in the history of art for believing that the better the work, the more bitterness it calls forth. He says that historians and not himself will have to estimate the value of his contribution and the weight of his influence. "But anyhow," he concludes, "I am positive that I have contributed to the intellectual and artistic development of my time and of future generations just as much as I am sure of increasing the volume of the Atlantic Ocean if I empty a bucketful of water into New York Harbor." THE NEW YORK TIMES April 12, 1933 ACCEPTS RIVERAS MURALS Detroit Arts Commission Acts After Hearing Details of Dispute DETROIT, April 12 (AP). -The Diego Rivera murals; recently completed on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts have been formally accepted by the Arts Commission. The resolution of acceptance included an expression of appreciation to Edsel Ford, donor of the murals, who was present but did not vote, and the acceptance was preceded by a recital of the controversy aroused by their display. William A. Valentiner, director of the Institute, described the objections, centering about the alleged caricature of religious scenes in the murals and a purported failure to catch the full spirit of the city. He also presented laudatory communications which had been received. Then the resolution was adopted without discussiossn. THE NEW YORK TIMES April 30, 1933 Two Skyscrapers Will Open This Week; RCA and John Street Buildings Ready Two of the major building enterprises of the past year in Manhattan-the seventy-story RCA Building in Rockefeller Center and the twenty-five story edifice of the Insurance Company of North America at 99 John Street-will receive their first tenants tomorrow. Finishing touches are being put on both structures, and some of the work in the Rockefeller Building will continue for several weeks, but the two buildings have received certificates of occupancy, and many concerns during the coming week will occupy their new quarters in both the downtown building and in the midtown edifice, which is the main unit in the Rockefeller commercial and amusement centre… The RCA Building, with more than 2,000,000 square feet of rental space, occupies more than half of the central block in the midtown development… Offices of the Radio Corporation in America and offices and studios of the National Broadcasting Company will be located in the seventy-story unit. The Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company and subsidiaries, and the three philanthropic bodies supported by the Rockefellers-the Rockefeller Foundation, the General Education Board, and the Spelman Fund of New York-also have taken large space. Innovations in Equipment Several innovations in equipment and design have been utilized for the building. These features include seventy-five elevators, many of them capable of traveling at 1,200 feet per minute and equipped with photoelectric cell door safety beams; an air-conditioning system said to be the largest ever installed in a single office building, a "zoned" heating system, an elaborate fire protection system, and setbacks along the front side of the building designed to insure ample light and air for the offices. Some well-known artists in America and Europe have contributed to the decorative program of the building, which is in its final stages. They include Jose Maria Sert, Diego Rivera, Frank Brangwyn, Lee Lawrie, Barry Faulkner, Leo Friedlander and Gaston Lachaise… THE NEW YORK TIMES May 10, 1933 ROCKEFELLERS BAN LENIN IN RCA MURAL AND DISMISS RIVERA Check Handed to Mexican Artist and He Is Barred From 'Greatest' Work COLORS ALSO NOT LIKED Brilliance and Inclusion of Russian as a Symbol Were held Likely to Offend SYMPATHIZERS IN PARADE Clash With Police at Building, but Are Dispersed-Screen Put Over Uncompleted Work Halted as he was at work last night on his scaffold in the Great Hall of the seventy-story RCA Building in Rockefeller Center, Diego Rivera, the celebrated Mexican mural painter whose communistic leaning have frequently enveloped him in controversy, was informed that the fresco on which he was engaged, and which he had regarded as his masterpiece, was no longer acceptable to the Rockefeller family. Turning sadly with a few of his assistants and devoted friends to his "shack" on the mezzanine of the building, Senor Rivera found that his telephone had been cut off. He also found awaiting him a letter from Todd, Robertson & Todd, enclosing a check for $14,000, completing payment in full of the $21,000 he had been promised for three murals. The letter expressed regret that Senor Rivera had been unable to come to some compromise on the paintings and said that the check was to be regarded as terminating his employment, although none of the tree panels for which he had been contracted had been finished. Paraders Clash With Police A crowd of about 100 art students and other admirers of the painter previously had been ushered from the hall by representatives of Todd, Robertson & Todd, the managing agents on behalf of John D. Rockefeller Jr., and mounted and foot police were on duty outside the building to prevent any demonstration when Senor Rivera was called away from his work. No demonstration materialized immediately, but about 10 o'clock, two hours later, between 75 and 100 men and women sympathizers of the artist paraded in front of the building, shouting "Save Rivera's art," and "We want Rivera." They carried banners on which similar sentiments were emblazoned. The police and fifteen uniformed attaches of the building made no attempt to interfere as the demonstrators marched around the building three times. But on their last round they gathered in Sixth Avenue between Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Streets, blocking the sidewalks, and were ordered to disperse by the police. Booing and jostling the policemen, the demonstrators refused. A crowd of waiting taxicab drivers took the side of the police, and a free-for-all fight developed. The policemen, brandishing their nightsticks, rushed into the crowd, which resisted until two mounted patrolmen charged into their midst. Then they fled. Meanwhile all the doors of Radio City Music Hall had been locked and patrons were compelled to wait for at least ten minutes until order was restored before they could leave. A traffic snarl had developed in Sixth Avenue, Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Streets meanwhile, but was soon cleared by the police. Lenin Pictured in Painting With an air of resignation rather than bitterness, Senor Rivera described in his broken English his design for the mural which, covering a space sixty-three feet long and seventeen feet high, was to have depicted "human intelligence in control of the forces of nature." A sketch of it had been shown to the Rockefeller family and approved by them, Senor Rivera said. The entire scheme for the mural decoration of the Great Hall was worked out by Senor Rivera, with the approval of the RCA art commission. His panel, the only one in color, was to have occupied the central position, and was to have been flanked by Brangwyn's chiaroscuro on the left, and Sert's on the right. Senor Rivera intended to portray the emancipation of mankind through technology. But when the actual painting began objection was raised, he said, to a figure of Lenin joining the hands of a soldier, a worker, and a Negro, which was to have topped the painting. In the background were crowds on unemployed. Senor Rivera said that he had been told that Mr. Rockefeller and his advisors did not find the mural as "highly imaginative" as they have expected it to be, and that its effect was unpleasant. They also objected to the brilliant colors in the background, he said. His first warning that his conception was no longer pleasing to the owners of the building came five or six days ago, Senor Rivera said last night. He added that he had desired to be conciliatory, and as a possible compromise had suggested that in one of the other panels he would portray the figure of Lenin helping mankind. Artist Consults Lawyer With his friends and assistants, Senor Rivera went from the building to the office of Philip Wittenberg, an attorney, at 70 West Fortieth Street, where they went into conference with Mr. Wittenberg and Arthur Garfield Hays to learn whether or not they had any legal recourse in the matter. After hearing Senor Rivera's side of the story, Mr. Wittenberg said he had made no decision on whether any legal action would be taken on his behalf. He said that an artist's rights in such circumstances have never been fully determined by the courts. Senor Rivera said the last thing he saw as he left the building after the managing agent's men had called him from the scaffold on a pretext, was the erection of a screen in front of the mural. He said that he feared that the painting, which he had come to regard as his greatest would be destroyed. A burlap covering was hung last night inside the Fifth Avenue door of the building, so that passersby could not see the painting. Nelson Rockefeller Wrote First The first official remonstrance received by Senor Rivera came from Nelson A. Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., in the following letter dated May 4: 26 Broadway, May 4, 1933. Dear Mr. Rivera: While I was in the No. 1 building at Rockefeller Center yesterday viewing the progress of your thrilling mural, I noticed that in the most recent portion of the painting you had included a portrait of Lenin. The piece is beautifully painted, but it seems to me that his portrait, appearing in this mural, might seriously offend a great many people. If it were in a private house it would be one thing, but this mural is in a public building and the situation is therefore quite different. As much as I dislike to do so, I am afraid we must ask you to substitute the face of some unknown man where Lenin's face now appears. You know how enthusiastic I am about the work which you have been doing and that to date we have in no way restricted you in either subject or treatment. I am sure you will understand our feeling in this situation and we will greatly appreciate your making the suggested substitution. Letter to N.A. Rockefeller A letter from Senor Rivera to Nelson A. Rockefeller, dated May 6, read as follows: In reply to your kind letter of May 4, 1933, I wish to tell you my actual feelings on the matters you raise, after I have given considerable reflection to them. The head of Lenin was included in the original sketch, now in the hands of Mr. Raymond Hood, and in the drawings in line made on the wall at the beginning of my work. Each time it appeared as a general and abstract representation of the concept of leader, an indispensable human figured. Now, I have merely changed the place in which the figure appears, giving it a less real physical place as if projected by a television apparatus. Moreover, I understand quite thoroughly the point of view concerning the business affairs of a commercial public building, although I am sure that that class of person who is capable of being offended by the portrait of a deceased great man, would feel offended, given such a mentality, by the entire conception of my painting. Therefore, rather than mutilate the conception, I should prefer the physical destruction of the conception in its entirety, but conserving, at least, its integrity. In speaking of the integrity of the conception I do not refer only to the logical structure of the painting, but also to its plastic structure. I should like, as far as possible, to find an acceptable solution to the problem you raise, and suggest that I could change the sector which shows society people playing bridge and dancing and put in its place, in perfect balance with the Lenin portrait, a figure of some great American historical leader, such as Lincoln, who symbolizes the unification of the country and the abolition of slavery, surrounded by John Brown, Nat Turner, William Lloyd Garrison or Wendell Phillips and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and perhaps some scientific figure like McCormick, inventor of the McCormick reaper, which aided in the victory of anti-slavery forces by providing sufficient wheat to sustain the Northern armies. I am sure that the solution I propose will entirely clarify the historical meaning of the figure of a leader as represented by Lenin and Lincoln, and no one will be able to object to them without objecting to the most fundamental feelings of human love and solidarity and the constructive social force represented by such men. Also it will clarify the general meeting of the painting. Final Appeal to Artist Senor Rivera received two letters yesterday from Todd, Robertson & Todd Engineering Corporation. The first letter, which reached the artist early in the day, was a final appeal to him to change the mural. It said in part: "the description you gave us in November last of the subject matter of you 'proposed mural decorations' at Rockefeller Center, and the sketch which you presented to us about the same time, both led us to believe that your work would be purely imaginative. There was not the slightest intimation, either in the description or the sketch, that you would include in the mural any portraits or any subject matter of a controversial nature. Under the circumstances we cannot but feel that you have taken advantage of the situation to do things which were never contemplated by either of us at the time our contract was made. We feel, therefore, that there should be no hesitation on your part to make such changes as are necessary to conform the mural to the understanding we had with you. The understanding was that slight coloring would be used. The bright colors have therefore provoked considerable discussion, but that is a matter we mention now only for your information." After Senor Rivera had replied, refusing to make any concession, Mr. Robertson sent a final letter, which was not received by the artist until after he had been called from his scaffold. Enclosing the check for $14,000, the letter said that "much to our regrets" the agent had no alternative except to request Senor Rivera to discontinue his work. Dismissal of Rivera A statement issued by Todd, Robertson & Todd, and Todd & Brown, Inc., managing agents of Rockefeller Center, follows: "Rockefeller Center announced last October that murals by three foreign artists-Jose Maria Sert of Spain, Frank Brangwyn of England and Diego Rivera of Mexico-would decorate the great hall in the RCA Building. These three artists, the announcement continued, 'are joining hands to produce a unified decorative them.' The murals of Sert have been completed and are now in place. The completion of Brangwyn's murals has been delayed by the artist's illness and will not reach the United States for some time. For several weeks Rivera has been painting his fresco on the elevator bank at the eastern end of the great hall. Rivera's fresco has now reached the stage where it is clear that neither in general treatment, nor in detail, will it fit into the unified decorative theme planned for the great hall. In other words, irrespective of its merits as a painting, it is artistically and thematically incongruous. These facts were called to Mr. Rivera's attention and he was requested to make certain changes which would bring his fresco into harmony with the architectural conception of the great hall. This he was unwilling to do: consequently, Mr. Rivera has been paid his contract price and the fresco is no longer in public view." Rivera Admits Red Leanings The shaggy-haired, huge-bodied painter, who only two months ago was engaged in a very similar controversy in Detroit, where it was charged that murals he had just completed on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts were blasphemous, is not a member of the Communist party. He was expelled from the Mexican branch of the party several years ago, but he frankly admits that his sympathies are communistic. In the Detroit controversy, his paintings were accepted by Edsel Ford, their donor. Senor Rivera explained his viewpoint and his attitude at the time as follows: "The official Communist party has expelled me from membership, and now the conservative element attacks me. However my public is made up of the workers-the manual and intellectual workers--. The religious are attacking me because I am religious: I paint what I see." Senor Rivera's assistants who were with him when he was ousted last night were Ben Shahn, Hideo Noda, a Japanese; Lou Bloch, Lucienne Bloch, Sanchez Flores and Arthur Niendorff. Harvey Wiley Corbett and Raymond Hood, the architects who, with Reinhard & Hofmeister, have been entrusted with the design of the entire Rockefeller Center project, both said last night that they had not been informed of the disapproval of the mural. Two previous disagreements on artistic conceptions for the great Rockefeller Center project have become known publicly in recent months. Robert Edmond Jones, one of the foremost American scenic designers resigned as art director of Radio City, although he declined to discuss his reasons for his action. S.L. Rothafel, better known as Roxy, barred two nude statues from the Radio City Music Hall before its opening last December, but so much interest developed in the works that they were restored to their original places in March. They were William Zorach's "Spirit of the Dance" and "Eve" by Mrs. Gwen Lux. Robert Laurent's "Goose Girl," which was reported at first to have suffered official disapproval never was removed from its position on the first mezzanine promenade. Brought Here By Museum Senor Rivera came to New York from Mexico in the Fall of 1931 under the sponsorship of the Museum of Modern Art, of which Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr., one of the founders, is now treasurer, and with her son Nelson is a member of the board of trustees. Although examples of Rivera's work were shown in the Eastern United States as long as ten years ago in one of the annual exhibitions of the Society of Independent Artists here, it remained for the Museum of Modern Art to bring him to New York and present his work retrospectively and extensively. The artist came to New York at the invitation of the museum, which provided a studio for him to paint a series of murals for the exhibition. Those who were familiar with his revolutionary work saw an element of the bizarre in the situation, since John D. Rockefeller Sr. was one of the capitalists whom Rivera had caricatured in what is perhaps his most famous series of murals in Mexico City, those in the Ministry of Education. Last Winter the Museum of Modern Art issued an elaborate portfolio of reproductions of Rivera's frescoes in Mexico, and when Rivera's recently completed murals in the Detroit Institute of Arts were attacked by religious organizations of that city as communistic, the Museum of Modern Art here issued a statement supporting the Mexican artist. Senor Rivera has explained here frequently his revolutionary beliefs. A short time after he began his murals at Rockefeller Center he delivered an address at the Rand School in which he expressed his revolutionary convictions and told of his belief that "art should be propaganda." In fact, he asserted that "art which is not propaganda is not art at all." THE NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE May 10, 1933 Rockefeller Center Ousts Rivera and Boards Up Mural Mexican Artist Refuses to Delete Lenin Head; on RCA Building Panel; Paid Last of $21,000 Had a Week to Go on 4-Month Task Rest of Fresco, Though Communistic in Tone, Approved; Red Protest in Streets Broken Up Diego Rivera, foremost Mexican artist, was forced to abandon his work on the huge murals in the main lobby of the seventy-two story RCA Building in Rockefeller Center last night because he refused the request of Nelson A. Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller jr., to remove the head of Lenin from one of the panels. After two months of preparatory work and six weeks of actual painting on the walls of the building, on Rockefeller Street, between Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Streets, Mr. Rivera would have completed his work in another week. Work Hidden From Public Called down from his scaffold and forced to halt his work, he received a check for $14,000, completing payment on his $21,000 contract for the work. Workmen began building a screen in front of the mural and the public will not be allowed to see the controversial art. The Lenin panel was completed about a week ago, Rivera and one assistant were on their scaffold, a dozen feet above the floor, painting another section of the wall, when Hugh Robertson, of the Todd, Robertson, Todd Engineering Corporation, builders and managers of Rockefeller Center and Joseph I. Brown, vice-president of Todd & Brown, Inc. entered the lobby, accompanied by a dozen uniformed guards. They called to Mr. Rivera to come down from his scaffold and handed him a letter enclosing the check. He looked at it for a moment and asked Mr. Robertson and Mr. Brown to come with him to his work shack on the mezzanine. They conferred briefly and the painter's assistant, realizing that something was amiss, rushed to the shack when the builders departed and found Mr. Rivera changing from his overalls in which he works to a blue serge suit. The assistant, learning what had happened, rushed to a near-by restaurant to inform the artist's six other assistants. Leaving their suppers unfinished, they rushed back into the building to express far more indignation than the bulging-eyed Mexican ever manifested. Two of the assistants, Lucienne Bloch, daughter of Ernest Bloch, composer, and Stefan Dimitroff raced to the second floor, scraped the white paint off two windows on the Forty-ninth Street side, and leaned out to paint on the panes the legends: "Workers Unite" and "Help! Protect Rivera M---" Miss Bloch was interrupted by guards and had no opportunity to complete the word "Murals." Communist Protest Broken Up Apparently the management of the development had expected a protest demonstration, for mounted police were on hand when a crowd of Communists began to gather. By 9 o'clock, 300 Communists were on hand, distributing hastily mimeographed leaflets stating: "We workers of New York, having heard that the painting of Diego Rivera is in danger, have come here to protect and defend it." They milled about, waving banners inscribed "Save Rivera's Painting," and marched about the building until 10 o'clock, when the police, fearing that dangerous confusion would result when crowds began to pour from the RKO-Roxy Theater and the Radio City Music Hall, broke up the parade. Rivera meanwhile had slipped from the building, escaping the notice of his sympathizers, and gone to his apartment at the Barbizon Plaza for his wife, who went with him to the office of his lawyer, Philip Wittenberg at 70 West Fortieth Street. There the painter and his corps of assistants related the story of the conflict with Mr. Rockefeller's opinion. Mr. Wittenberg said he would seek an injunction to restrain the building management from destroying the mural or any part of it. The artist's assistants informed him that the wall could be removed in sections if this were necessary to preserve the paintings. Rivera's murals in the court of the Detroit Art Institute caused fierce controversy recently, the more conservative critics asserting that they were an affront to any one with religious faith. Detroit was particularly aroused over a painting of parents vaccinating a child, some critics holding that it was a caricature of the Holy Family. Edsel Ford paid for Rivera work in Detroit and, despite all the fuss, it has remained. It has been Rivera's custom to come to his work at the RCA Building at 6 o'clock in the evening. Tickets were issued to watch him work and during the evening there were frequently as many at 100 men and women spectators. In the early stages of the work it was said that most of them were art students but as the painting progressed and its tenor became more obvious, the general opinion around the building was a good many of those watching were Communists who made no pretense at art. Last night, however, canvas was hung over the doors, and now no one can see. Letters Are Made Public The correspondence between Mr. Rockefeller, who has had active charge of Rockefeller Center, Mr. Rivera, and the builders was made public. Mr. Rockefeller's Letter follows: 26 Broadway, New York May 4, 1933. Dear Mr. Rivera: While I was in the No. 1 building at Rockefeller Center yesterday viewing the progress of your thrilling mural, I noticed that in the most recent portion of the painting you had included a portrait of Lenin. The piece is beautifully painted, but it seems to me that his portrait, appearing in this mural, might seriously offend a great many people. If it were in a private house it would be one thing, but this mural is in a public building and the situation is therefore quite different. As much as I dislike to do so, I am afraid we must ask you to substitute the face of some unknown man where Lenin's face now appears. You know how enthusiastic I am about the work which you have been doing and that to date we have in no way restricted you in either subject or treatment. I am sure you will understand our feeling in this situation and we will greatly appreciate your making the suggested substitution. With best wishes I remain sincerely, NELSON A. ROCKEFELLER Manager's Statement The following statement was issued late last night by Todd, Robertson & Todd, engineering corporation, and Todd & Brown, Inc. managing agents of Rockefeller Center: Rockefeller Center announced last October that murals by three foreign artists-Jose Maria Sert of Spain, Frank Brangwyn of England and Diego Rivera of Mexico-would decorate the great hall in the RCA Building. These three artists, the announcement continued, 'are joining hands to produce a unified decorative them.' The murals of Sert have been completed and are now in place. The completion of Brangwyn's murals has been delayed by the artist's illness and will not reach the United States for some time. For several weeks Rivera has been painting his fresco on the elevator bank at the eastern end of the great hall. Rivera's fresco has now reached the stage where it is clear that neither in general treatment, nor in detail, will it fit into the unified decorative theme planned for the great hall. In other words, irrespective of its merits as a painting, it is artistically and thematically incongruous. These facts were called to Mr. Rivera's attention and he was requested to make certain changes which would bring his fresco into harmony with the architectural conception of the great hall. This he was unwilling to do: consequently, Mr. Rivera has been paid his contract price and the fresco is no longer in public view. Mural Held Place of Honor Rivera's large fresco mural occupied the place of honor in the front hall of the seventy-story RCA Building and was the first interior detail of the building to meet the eye on entering from Rockefeller Street… The mural, a forthright statement of the Communist viewpoint, wraps the end of the wall of the main entrance, its dominant part facing the doorway… In accord with the underlying themes of all decorations of Rockefeller Center, the mural depicted the "New Frontier," and in his main painting on the front wall Rivera had depicted man looking upon the life about him, through a microscope on one hand and a telescope on the other. The mural in reality was a group of separate paintings, arranged by the artist to show what he believed to be their proper interrelation. Work is Part of the Wall The entire mural is in vivid colors that make each detail stand out with almost photographic sharpness. It is a true fresco in earth colors on wet plaster which became a part of the wall on drying and cannot be removed until the wall is taken down. Of the several unusual scenes and ideas which the artist had attempted to express in his painting none excited more than the prominent central segment, in which greatly magnified germs of various diseases were painted in vivid red, browns, and greens. The segment, elliptical in shape, filled the center of the mural and literally depicted enlarged microbes. The different diseases were so arranged in the painting that the bacilli stood nearest the social scene to which the artist believed them related. At the top were paintings of the microbes, given life by the poisonous gases of war, and toward the other end of the ellipse were the germs of the infectious and hereditary social diseases, so placed in the composition that they were indicated as the results of a civilization revolving about night clubs and bridge parties. It was a similar attention to medical detail that aroused the recent controversy over Rivera's Murals at Detroit. Television Machine in Center In the exact center of the mural was painted a television machine operated by a worker in overalls, standing in front of a huge dynamo. Just to the left of this worker were painted a group of test tubes containing bacteria cultures. The other scenes of the painting were grouped around the television machine and the germ segment. The upper left corner of the mural showed in vivid gray and green a massed infantry attack by soldiers wearing gas-masks. One of the soldiers is spraying forth liquid fire and airplanes and tanks move in the background. Immediately beneath this segment is a Communist demonstration in Wall Street with Trinity Church in the background. Iron-jawed mounted policemen, one swinging his club, are ploughing through an immense crowd of workers bearing the slogans and banners so often destroyed by police. The banners read: "We Want Work, Not Charity," "Down With Imperialistic Wars," "Free Mooney." Beneath a group of workmen look on and in juxtaposition to them sits a bench of students, a Jew, a Japanese, a Negro and a Nordic, being taught by an instructor, who directs their attention to a huge magnifying glass painted on the mural. Beyond this magnifying glass four women in evening dress are playing bridge, and about them is a group of dancer and drinkers in a nightclub. The microbe segment slants down from the battle scene to the bridge table. In the upper right of the mural is another Communist demonstration, this one apparently in Russia, where the dominant note is red. Red flags wave, the peasants wear headdress and an immense celebration is shown in progress. Beneath this is a group of dancing girls, and to the right of the girls is another group of students being lectured on what they see through an immense microscope. In the center, under the television machine, is a segment in dead black on which are painted the heavenly bodies, a large gray disk of the moon and the red glare of Mars to the center. Earth Segment Not Completed The bottom segment, not yet completed, was to have represented the earth as an open book, on the pages of which were to be painted the life-giving plants and minerals. The mural was to have covered 1,071 square feet. The tops of two related murals had been painted on the north and south sides of the main wall, at right angles to the principal mural. The north wall mural showed a statue of a decapitated Caesar standing before a rejoicing crowd, and was called "The Liquidator of Tyranny." On the south wall was a Jove, his arm struck off by a bolt of lightning which glanced to an electric transformer called "The Liquidation of Superstition." In all the segments the details are realistic and apparently accurate. Senor Rivera frequently has expressed his desire to have his paintings correct in the eye of experts. For the microbe details, for example, he passed a day studying bacteriological slides at Bellevue Hospital and later borrowed the slides of a hospital official. Drafted Model on Fifth Avenue The artist worked on the mural from eight to sixteen hours daily and usually there was a sizable crowd before his scaffold watching him. The scaffold stood eight feet above the floor and all details of the work could be seen. Models posing for the painting sat or stood beside the artist on the scaffold. Workers in the R.C.A. building posed for some of the crowd scenes, friends and acquaintances posed for others and in at least one instance, Senor Rivera's assistants drafted a girl with the proper shade of red hair from a crowd in Fifth Avenue. Spectators often asked Senor Rivera if his mural was intended as a caricature of modern society. He replied that the mural was not caricature but that he was simply trying "to show historical facts in plastic expression so the ordinary man may see and understand and feel." He always denied that he was a Communist politically, pointing to his expulsion from the Mexican Communist organization, but he readily confessed to expressin communistic ideas in his painting, saying that "communism is the only ultimate form of social life among civilized people." The Mexican painter regarded the Rockefeller Center assignment as the greatest artistic opportunity of his career. Often reproached by Communists as a renegade from the party, he had expressed his conviction that he would, in Rockefeller Center, nail his colors up for all time and show that he was a "worker." Called Himself a Worker "I am a worker," he said recently, "I am painting for my class--the working people. If others like my painting, that is all right. To be useful, that is my object. But I am not one to prostitute with the workers. I am not one bourgeois worker or bourgeois painter or bourgeois thinker. I am one man who works for my own interests and my interests are the interests of the working class." TO the observer, however, Senor Rivera appeared the artist rather than the worker. A large man, weighing 198 pounts, he often worked twenty hours a day without ever seeming tired or hungry. Intensely polite and attentive, he was saved by constant interruption only by his assistants of young wife, who occasionally sat beside him knitting. THE NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE May 11, 1933 Rivera Plans Fight to Finish Barred Mural Artist Holds Moral Issue Involved in Dispute With Rockefeller Center His Supporters Organize Painter Assails 'Group of Commercial Minded', An artist scorned, Diego Rivera spilled out his fury yesterday against the 'little group of commercial minded people" who fired him on Tuesday night from his ambitious task of decorating the main lobby of the seventytwo story RCA Building in Rockefeller Center with a mammoth fresco. With keen and stubborn class consciousness, the foremost Mexican artist announced that he would never give in to the demand of the Rockefeller interests that the head of Lenin be removed from one of the panels of the mural. "I shall sustain to the uttermost limit," he remarked last night, "my right to conclude my work without any modification whatsoever imposed by the power of wealth. And I shall fight for the completion, reproduction and exhibition of my work. Afterward they can do with it what they will" Will Not Go to Court Senor Rivera, scanning this capitalist city at twilight from his comfortable apartment on the thirty-fifth floor of the Barbizon-Plaza, seemed a little uncertain as to just how he would wage his fight. Of one thing he was sure he wouldn't go to court, not ever, no matter what happened. The artist from below the Rio Grande took the view that the issue was a moral one. The law leaves him cold, and its courts, he looks upon, with his proletarian eye, as bourgeois institutions. While the tempest in a paint pot blew all day across the city, rousing artists and scientist and plain citizens who don't know much about art but who know that they dislike to becoming partisans in the new controversy, the Rockefellers kept cool, aloof, and silent. Their workmen had put up a huge screen of lumber and tar paper across the Rivera murals within a few hours of the moment when he was ordered down from his scaffold and given $14,000 Monday night, thereby receiving full payment on his $21,000 contract. The screen completely hides the mural, which is sixty- three feet in length and seventeen feet high. The frescoes would require only about two weeks more work by Senor Rivera and his seven assistants to complete the artist said. Fate of Work Is Uncertain What the Rockefellers are going to do with it in the event that the break with Rivera is final, there was no inkling whatever. At the office of Nelson A. Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who first asked the artist to substitute the face of "some unknown man where Lenin's face now appears," it was said that Mr. Rockefeller had nothing more to say, on the subject, at least for the time being. Unofficially, it was said yesterday by those in close relations with the Rockefeller interests that there was no intention to remove or paint over the Rivera frescoes; that these, however would remain screened indefinitely. To remove them would present tremendous difficulties, for the artist works on wet plaster into which, when it dries, the paint becomes impregnated to a considerable depth. To get rid of the fresco would mean getting rid of about four tons of wall and building. Senor Rivera conceded that he had he not mentioned any intention to put Lenin on the walls of Rockefeller Center when he sketched his mural for those who Commissioned him. His sketch had merely shown "a leader" clasping hands with two workmen. Praises Lenin "I am a worker," he said last night, "and for me Lenin is the only leader. When I think of a leader I think of him." "It is not a portrait," he went on. "But it is an excellent likeness of Lenin," an interviewer remarked. "Perhaps that is because I am a good painter," the Mexican said, his soft, plump face breaking into a smile. There were many other characters besides "the leader" in his Rockefeller Center mural, a questioner spoke up. Was any particular person portrayed in any of these others? Senor Rivera conceded that Lenin's was the only likeness of any prominent person to be found in the frescoes, though, of course, he had used models in his work. "Suppose you were going to depict a capitalist instead of a leader, would any particular capitalist come to your mind?" he was asked. "Oh, I have painted capitalists," he said. The question was repreated and his second reply was that "capitalists are not leaders." He had intended, as had been his custom to devote the hours of Tuesday night to working on the mural, but, instead, he went to see his lawyer, Philip Wittenberg of 70 West Fortieth Street, when he was called off his job. Has Knotty Problem Yesterday morning he though about going to court, perhaps to get out an injunction to restrain the Rockefellers from removing or erasing or even shielding his frescoes, perhaps to try to establish a right to go on with the task. It was, lawyers admitted, a pretty problem, a nice question to be settled, something new in American law. Had an artist a sort of "continuing ownership" in his art even though someone else bought it? Mr. Wittenberg was inclined to say that in such a contract as that made with Rivera by the Rockefellers there was sort of an "implied covenant" that the artist's work would be exhibited. He was obviously tempted to go to court and find out what the judiciary would have to say about that, for it would probably establish a precedent, whatever the ruling. But later, after he had talked with the artist in his office for an hour at midday, Mr. Wittenberg said he wasn't going to do anything unless the other side did something. For the time being, if Rivera's work remained untouched, he would just sit tight. "It is not a legal question," Rivera kept insisting, "It is a moral question. They have violated two fundamental elementary rights--the right of an artist to create, to express himself, and the right to receive the judgment of the world, of posterity." "They have no right, this little group of commercial minded people, to assassinate my work and that of my colleagues. And if they veil it, cover it with tar paper--as they have done--that is as much assassination as its complete destruction would be. "I am not a propagandist. I am an expressionist--giving expression to modern trends in social life, wherever it is found, in America, in Russia, under the microscope, up among the stars. I am the one who is truthful. They are the ones who are hypocrites. "I'll show you how much truth there is in their arguments. In the first place, they knew it was to be a fresco--a painting that becomes itself a part of the very wall and which cannot be removed from it. "In the second place, they accepted my sketches, knew of my plan, had full knowledge of the ideas I was to develop. Third, they knew of my personal character and ideals; they knew that I consider myself one of the working class. And they knew that I desired to portray existent life--not life as they would wish it to be portrayed. "Yet, knowing all that, they permit me to proceed with the work until it is nearly completed. They permit my fellow workers to labor with me until they suddenly discover somewhere in the picture the face of Lenin. Then that becomes the excuse to cover my work. It is not my painmting, but it is that man Lenin, which makes the work propaganda. Expounds His Theories Last night Senor Rivera expounded his credo of art as the handmaiden of utility and of social forces and concepts at a dinner of the Menorah Artists and Writers' Committee at the Hotel Park Crescent, Riverside Drive and Eighty-Seventh Street. Although he did not directly identify his remarks as referring to Rockefeller Center, applause was liberal at such remarks as: "The role of the artist is to condense in himself all social conditions and put them in such a form, against all opposition of whatever interests there may be, as to show them plainly to the whole world." Miss Anita Brenner, writer on Mexican and Latin America, interpreted Senor Rivera's address, which was in Spanish. At times the artist became so engrossed that he went on for two or three hundred words without giving Miss Brenner an opportunity of translating. Senor Rivera made the concession to bourgeois forms of appearing at the dinner in a dinner coat. "The artist," he said, "is merely the result and expression of his social milieu. The architect is, historically, by derivation, the chief workman on a job. When he ceases to be this, he becomes a go-between, between the man with the money and the engineer. So naturally, today, architecture and painting have the appearance and character, precisely, of something done by a go-between. "Architecture in New York has as its object the exploitation of real estate values and this misfortune is due to the fact that the whole problem is to make something which is cheap worth a great deal. Steel skeletons are cheap but, in order to make the building expensives, architects add plaster or paris and papier-mache styles long since dead which they drag out of the gutter. This architecture and this painting is nothing but a representation of the ethics of our own capitalistic society." A Rivera committee of artists and scientists was organized yesterday by Walter Pach, author of "Ananias, or the False Artists," and Miss Suzanne La Follette, author of "Art in America," and a former editor of "The New Freeman." Their committee will meet tonight at Miss La Follette's home, 22 East Tenth Street. While art was bubbling so hot at the top of the publicity pot, a group of well known American artists announced the formation of the Advance American Art Commission which intends to let the country know that American artists are incensed by the 'foreign invasion' and the public's acceptance "of the belief that foreign art is superior" to the home product. The governing board of the new association, which is to launch its campaign at a dinner at the Roosevelt on May 18 is composed of Dewitt M. Lockman, George Elmer Browne, Leopold Seyffert, Dean Cornwell, Louis Betts, Wayman Adams, Ulric Ellerhusen, Joseph Schlaikjer, Sidney Dickinson, Eugene Savage, Robert Aitken and John Taylor Arms. THE DAILY WORKER May 11, 1933 Rockefeller, Hitler Against Worker, Soldier and Negro By Robert Minor Yesterday Adolph Hitler, his hands dripping with the blood of murdered German workers, destroyed the books written by "Jews, Internationalists, and Marxists" in a public bonfire in Berlin. All the books of Lenin that could be found were burned. Within the same 48 hours, in New York City, a dozen uniformed guards, supported by foot and mounted police, surrounded a painter's scaffold to put an end to the painting of a mural decoration on the great new theatre and amusement building, the "Rockefeller Center." For, if the German ruling class must incite wholesale murders of Jews and must destroy the culture of Germany, in order to conceal their enslavement of the German working class (and even enslavement of the same petty-bourgeois masses which they incite to anti-Jewish insanity)--so also must American ruling class destroy in this period of dying capitalism, any cultural effort that shows-- A white worker, a Negro, and a soldier, with their hands being joined together by Lenin. The same Rockefeller who employed the artist to paint the mural decoration, sent the uniformed guards to seize, pay off, and discharge the artist before he could finish the job. Six years ago when the late Dwight D. Morrow, partner of the international banking firm of J.P. Morgan and Company, became United States Ambassador to Mexico, he was sent there as a special agent of corruption. It was a critical situation. The whole drive of the American ruling class to secure the colonial conquest of Mexico hung in the balance. The astute partner of the Morgan-Wall Street firm was a specialist in that highest art of corruption which appears in the guise of "broadminded sympathy" with the cause that is to be destroyed. Morrow was the most noted agent in the wholesale bribing of the biggest section of the bureaucracy of the Mexican government and army in the effort to convert that government into a sub-department of the Department of State of Yankee Imperialism at Washington. And among all of the foul jobs that was done by Morrow it is known that his proudest boast was his success in breaking down the morale of a certain world-famous artist who was then a revolutionary leader of workers and peasants and of the Communist Party of Mexico. "Honors" and admittedly large commissions were heaped upon the once-outcast revolutionary artist. Diego Rivera thus became Morgan's artist, Rockefeller's artist, Ford's artist, where once he had been the Mexican workers' and peasants' artist, Rivera became the head of the National School of Fine Arts of the government of Mexico. Workers and peasants were hanged by thousands. And Diego Rivera, member of the government, did not protest. *** Within the "cultural" centers of the big Yankee cities, Diego Rivera became the political symbol of the "new relationship" between the United States and Mexico--the symbol of "understanding" behind which the corruption and strangling of the national persistance of Mexico against the imperialist conquest by Wall Street is concealed. The talented Mexican artist became the "rage" of the American high bourgeois circles... But Diego Rivera had only one thing to sell Mr. Rockefeller: his talent, his love and his hate--learned in the class struggles of Mexico--a love and a hate and a talent that began to take sick and die on the plaster walls of the great buildings of the Fords and the Rockefellers. *** After the "Hoover era," during which all roads of triumphal march had led to Washington, came the crash. Great masses of hungry and ragged men thronged the roads to Washington. On May Days, a million workers marched and red flags flew. American ex-soldiers were shot down by Hoover. Vast millions of Negroes moved in their slavery and thousands fought in the streets, shoulder to shoulder to white workers to save nine Negro boys framed up and condemned to death. Giant columns after columns of unemployed workers, ragged soldiers, expropriated farmers, enslaved Negroes, captured freight trains, occupied government buildings, invaded state houses, put ropes around the necks of judges. The great seething mass of Latin-America and the Philippines began to boil with revolt against enslavement by the Yankee Wall Street of the North. The capitalist world began to shatter, to crack, and in places, to fall. The irreconcilable class divisions of the human race were more and more exposed. The decay of the capitalist slave system stood out against the brilliant dawn of living Socialism in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, successfully built on the plan of Lenin. As the chasm widened, war flamed on the horizon--imperialist war--all forms of capitalist war--class war--impending imperialist invasion of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. The Communist Internationalist vastly strengthed, nearly doubling in membership within a year. The Communist Party of Mexico, the Communist Party of the United States grew and strengthened and began more than ever to consolidate those forces which will destroy capitalism. The Communist Parties began for the first time to weld together those social forces, the proletarian slave, the colonial slave and the soldier slave in uniform. The Party of Lenin, the Communist Party alone, could do it. These became the greatest reality of the world today. And if you do not know it, reality is all there is for an artist to paint. Diego Rivera, painting for Rockefeller, had deserted the Communist Party: Diego Rivera was no longer a revolutionist. But he had nothing to sell to Mr. Rockefeller but his talent and the cadaver of his old love and hate. Rockefeller, like Morrow, had promised him that his freedom to picture reality as he saw it would be given him along with the Yankee dollars. And there was nothing else to paint--so on the walls of Rockefeller Temple, under the brush of Diego Rivera appeared a worker, a Negro and a soldier--their hands being united by the symbol of the revolutionary world Communist Party--Lenin. There is always trouble in buying the talents and the dreams of men. The corruption of culture is a delicate thing--there must remain the semblance of the real, a semblance of the love of life and truth: otherwise the bargain is not delivered. But the worker, the soldier and the Negro--and Lenin (the Communist Party)--are a combination which spells death to capitalism. The paymaster of the artist shuddered at the sight. *** The stopping of the production of the mural decoration at the Rockefeller Center is a political incident. It is one of the lightning flashes in the stormy skies of the present decline of capitalism. It shows the tangled snarl of contradictions between the foul system of capitalist wage slavery and prostitution of all arts and culture, on the one hand, which constitute the capitalist relations of production, with the highest development of the material base of production. This flash of lightning shows the picture of a prostitute civilization which cannot longer live without debauching all of life and all of culture, without a regime of Hitler's murder and Rockefeller's vandalism, and indeed the class violence and murder of American bourgeoisie which rival the bloodiest crimes of the German fascist. Not too long after the German masses will hang the butcher Hitler, many men of the class and role of Rockefeller will face a revolutionary tribunal of American workers, soldiers, and Negroes. It may be in the same great hall at the Rockefeller Center. THE LOS ANGELES TIMES May 11, 1933 ARTIST STANDS FIRM ON MURAL "Lenin Head Stays in or I'm Through." Says Rivera Mexican Drops Plan to Test Rights in Court Rockefeller Center Picture May Be Completed NEW YORK, May 10--Diego Rivera, forced by the Rockefeller family to abandon work on his proletarian panorama, issued this ultimatum tonight: "Either the head of Lenin stays in or I wash my hands of the whole work." Dropping a hastily prepared plan to test the power of the court to guarantee the completion and exhibition of the mural--the dominant art theme in the seventy-story central building of Rockefeller Center--the Mexican artist said. "I leave my cause in the hands of the workers of brain and hand in the United States and the world." At Rockefeller Center no decision was reached during the day as to the disposition of the work. The fresco work is such that the entire front elevator facade must be torn down to dispose of the mural. Attaches at the center said John D. Rockefeller Jr. personally appeared last night to order Rivera to cease his work. As the day brought the formation of artists and writers committees to back Rivera's stand, the belief was expressed in one quarter close to Rockefeller Center that the controversy will subside within a few weeks and the mural will be completed. In his tower apartment, high above Central Park and overlooking the Hudson, the bulky artist outlined his position tonight: "This is not personal, but represents the cause of all artists and their right to express themselves freely and integrally. Those who have come to my aid come not in the defense of Diego Rivera, but of the most elementary human right: the right of freedom of thought and expression. I shall sustain to the limit my right to conclude my work without any modifications whatever imposed by the power of wealth, and shall fight for the completion and exhibition of my work. Afterward they can do with it what they will. I am sure they will not be able to destroy either the emotion or the thought which it contains." Surrounded by his corps of assistants, the artist declared he has not violated the intent of his agreement with the Rockefellers; that his original sketch for the mural provided for the head of a proletarian leader, and that in his belief the logical man to portray is Lenin. THE LOS ANGELES TIMES May 12, 1933 RIVERA GETS STOP ORDER ON MURAL Radio City Row Credited for Halting of General Motors Job at Fair NEW YORK, May 11--Diego Rivera, Mexican artist, was ordered today to discontinue work on a mural for the General Motors Building at teh Chicago Century of Progress Exposition. Albert Kahn, architect for the automobile corporation, so advised the Mexican artist in the following telegram: "I have instructions from General Motors executives to discontinue with the Chicago mural. This is undoubtedly due to the notoriety created by the Radio City situation. Am terribly disappointed and will still do my best to get permission for you to proceed." The artist said he will make no move for a reconsideration by General Motors officials." "Everything is up to them. If that is the course they choose to follow, I am satisfied," he said. THE ART NEWS May 13, 1933 Rockefeller Boards Up Rivera Fresco Because Artist Will Not Substitute Face of Unknown Man for Lenin The huge murals in the main lobby of the seventy-two story RCA Building in Rockefeller Center, by which the celebrated Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, hoped to prove to the world for all time his allegiance to the working class, will not be completed. The artist was interrupted while at work on the night of May 9, and informed that the fresco on which he was engaged was not acceptable to the Rockefeller family. Commissioned last fall by Nelson A. Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the work, the actual painting of which has engaged the artist for the past six weeks, would have been finished within another few days. The panel, which is the only one in color, was to have occupied the central position in the main hall. Senor Rivera's original design met with the approval of the RCA Art Commission. But when the actual painting of this sector began, objection was at once raised to a figure of Lenin joining the hands of a soldier, a worker and a negro with crowds of unemployed in the background. The artist, In an effort to be conciliatory, offered to portray the figure of Lincoln helping mankind In one of the other sections. Mr. Rockefeller appealed to the artist in a letter, dated May 4, part of which follows: "Viewing the progress of your thrilling mural, I noticed that in the most recent portion of your painting you have included the portrait of Lenin. The piece is beautifully painted, but it seems to me that this portrait, appearing in this mural, might very easily seriously offend a great many people. If it were in a private house, it would be one thing, but this mural is in a public building, and the situation is therefore quite different. As much as I dislike to do so, I am afraid that we must ask you to substitute the face of some unknown man, where Lenin's now appears. "You know how enthusiastic I am about the work which you have been doing, and that to date we have in no way restricted you in either subject or treatment. I am sure you will understand our feeling in this situation, and we will greatly appreciate your making the suggested substitution." Senor Rivera refused to do this, and replied in a letter, dated May 6, that "The head of Lenin was included in the original sketch, now in the hands of Mr. Raymond Hood, and in the drawings in line made on the wall at the beginning of my work. Each time it appears as a general and abstract representation of the concept of leader an indispensable figure. Now, I have merely changed the place in which the figure appears, giving it a less real physical place as if projected by a television apparatus. "Moreover. I understand quite thoroughly the point of view of a commercial public building, although I an sure that that class of person who is capable of being offended by the portrait of a deceased great man would feel offended given such mentality by the entire conception of my painting. Therefore rather than mutilate the conception, I should prefer the physical destruction of the conception in its entirety, but conserving, at least, its integrity." In the same letter, he suggests as a solution to the problem, that he change another sector to embrace the figure of some great American historical leader such as Lincoln, concluding his letter as follows: "I am sure that the solution I propose will entirely clarity the historical meaning of the leader as represented by Lenin and Lincoln, and no one will be able to object to them without objecting to the most fundamental feelings of human love and solidarity, and the constructive social force represented by such men." On the day that Rivera was asked to discontinue his work, Mr. Hugh S. Robertson, president of Todd, Robertson and Todd, Engineering Corporation, wrote the artist two letters, in one of which he says in part: "The description you gave us in November last of the subject matter of your proposed mural decorations at Rockefeller Center, and the sketch which you presented to us about the same time, both led us to believe that your work would be purely imaginative. There was not the slightest intimation, either in the description or in the sketch, that you would include in the mural any portraits or any subject matter of a controversial nature. "Under the circumstances we cannot but feel that you have taken advantage of the situation to do things which were never contemplated by either of us at the time our contract was made. We feel, therefore, that there should be no hesitation on your part to make such changes as are necessary to conform the mural to the understanding we had with you." To this communication. Senor Rivera replied refusing to make any concession. A second letter enclosed a check for $14,000, saying that much to their regret the agents had no alternative except to request him to abandon his work. Mounted and foot police were stationed outside the building to prevent any demonstration, and about one hundred art students and other admirers of the painter had been previously ushered from the hall by representatives of Todd. Robertson 'and Todd, agents for John D. Rockefeller, Jr., before Senor Rivera was called away from his work. Senor Rivera feared that the painting, which depicted human intelligence in control of the forces of nature, and which he had come to regard as his greatest, would be destroyed. A burlap covering has been hung inside the Fifth Avenue door of the building, so that passersby could not see the fresco. Senor Rivera's assistants, with him when he received his dismissal, were Ben Shahn, whose gouaches of the "Mooney Case" are now on exhibition at the Downtown Gallery, Hideo Nods, Lou Bloch, Lucienne Bloch, Sanchez Flores and Arthur Niendorff. Senor Rivera came to New York from Mexico in the fall of 1931, sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art, of which Mrs. John D. Rockefeller. Jr. is now treasurer and her son Nelson a member of the board of trustees. He has always denied that he was a communist politically, pointing to the fact that he was expelled from the Mexican communist organisation; although he readily confesses to expressing communistic ideas in paintings. Recently he said: "Art should be propaganda. Art which is not propaganda is not art at all ... I am a worker, I am painting for my class--the working people. If others like my painting that is all right." THE NEW YORK TIMES May 11, 1933 ROW ON RIVERA ART STILL IN DEADLOCK Unfinished Fresco in RCA Hall Covered With Paper to Await Plans to Preserve It ARTIST BANS COMPROMISE Says Work Is 'Assassinated'--Defends Depiction of Lenin as Mankind's Leader MURAL MAY BE REMOVED Rockefellers Also Consider New One to Veil It Native Painters Fight Foreign Rivalry Neat strips of sheath paper carefully blanketed from public view yesterday Diego Rivera's uncompleted fresco, with its head of Nicolai Lenin, in the great hall of the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center. Rising high and broad above scurrying workmen at the very entrance of the main unit of the center, the covered wall symbolized the deadlock that continued between the Rockefeller interests and the Mexican mural painter. Interrupted suddenly Tuesday night as he was at work on the scaffold, paid in full and told that his conception of the fresco was unsuitable, the artist broke his silence yesterday to charge that his art was being "assassinated". Preservation of Work Planned Meanwhile it was intimated that the Rockefeller interests were determined that the work of the acknowledged master mural painter should not be destroyed. Several suggestions were said to be under consideration to prevent mutilation of the uncompleted work. One was for placing another mural, painted on canvas, over the Rivera fresco, which is painted on the plaster. Another was for removal of the fresco, plaster and all, for its preservation elsewhere. Spokesmen for Rockefeller Center said the suddenness with which the Mexican artist was stopped in his work would necessitate a period of consideration before any decision was reached on care of the Rivera work and plans for some new art work to occupy its place. Raymond M. Hood, one of the architects for the center, said, however, that he felt certain the disputed fresco would receive "verycareful handling". The painter, whose subject matter and treatment in other murals for public buildings have provoked numerous disputes on the ground that they set forth ideas too radical for general popular view in what followers of Rivera would call "capitalistic structures", spent a turbulent day giving interviews expressing his indignation and consulting with his attorney, Philip Wittenberg. It was evident that he was not fully decided on his own course and it was asserted by friends that although he had received his full $21,000 payment, he was more concerned about completing the fresco than anything else. His attorney said an injuction would be sought if there was any move to destroy the work. Radical groups seized upon the conflict to issue statements condemning the halting of work as comparable with "the vicious deeds of Hitler". Artist Refuses to Compromise "I refuse to compromise", said Rivera. "I will not change my mural even if I lose in the courts. It is a question of the right of the artist to complete his work and have it viewed". No word came from the Rockefeller family. Nelson Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose letter to the painter, regretfully indicating that a depiction of Lenin as the great leader of mankind was not a suitable decoration for the walls of a public building, made no further statement. Speaking partly in English and partly through an interpreter, Rivera set forth his views in detail. His fresco, he insisted, was not Communist propaganda, but the propaganda of the artist for his ideas. The official Communist group, he explained, had criticized both the fresco and himself for his work in collaboration with the Rockefellers. The Rockefellers and their representatives, he declared, knew that he was going to place the figure of a "leader" in the fresco and he asserted that in his opinion Lenin was "the most modern leader in the world". Rivera Sees Moral Issue "It is not a legal question,' he said. "It is a moral question". They have violated two fundamental elementary rights, the right of the artist to create, to express himself, and the right to receive the judgment of the world, of posterity. "They have no right, this little group of commercially minded people, to assassinate my work and that of my colleagues, and if they veil it, cover it with tar paper as they have done, that is as much an assassination as its complete destruction would be." "My case is more important than a legal quarrel. It involves a moral issue, an issue of human rights, the right to create and the right to express truths as I see truths. They accepted my sketches, knew of my plan and had full knowledge of the ideas I was to develop. They knew of my personal character and ideals. They know I am working for myself and that I consider myself one of the working class. And they knew that I desired to portray existent life, not life as they would wish it to be portrayed. The painter said he expected "intellectuals" to rally to his side "to keep the Rockefellers from assassinating my work". Both he and his wife expressed the opinion that members of the Rockefeller family, who had been friendly to them, would regret the stoppage of his work. Mr. Wittenberg suggested it would be difficult to remove the Rivera mural from its place in the great hall. The wall, he said, was made specially for it, with steel beams to prevent cracks, two layers of brown plaster, one of white plaster and a layer of crushed marble. The pigments, he said, worked gradually through all four layers. Work went on in the RCA building through the day and the curtain that had been placed across the entrance to hide the work was removed when the fresco itself was covered. Small details of patrolmen were in evidence around the big building, but there were no reports of trouble such as that which developed Tuesday night when Rivera sympathizers paraded in protest and a street row broke out. Last night Rivera, through an interpreter, delivered a protest against the action of the Nazi government in Germany in burning proscribed books. He spoke at a dinner at the Park Crescent Hotel, Riverside Drive and Eighty-seventh Street, under the auspices of the Menorah Writers and Artists Committee. "The Nazi government, in burning Karl Marx's books", he said, "has confirmed Marxism. According to Marxism theory, if society does not accept socialism there is no alternative but barbarism. What is being done in Germany today confirms that theory". The painter dwelt on the role of the artist in society in general terms and said he was "like the iceman or delivery boy, and sometimes like the engineer or the expert electrician". He opposed the idea of the artist as apart from the social group and contended that the idea of "art for art's sake" was fostered to "drug" the public by persons profiting by the present system. Move to Curb Foreign Artists During the last few weeks, while Rivera was at work on his frescoes in Rockefeller Center and Jose Maria Sert, the Spanish artist, was placing his mural paintings in the same structure, conservative American artists have been forming an organization with the object of curbing the activities of foreign artists in this country and advancing the cause of American art. The dismissal of Rivera brought forth the first announcement from this group, which is "designed to function solely for the purpose of publicly coping with the existing foreign evils and abuses threatening American art". The association is to be known as the Advance American Art Commission. The governing board is composed of De Witt Lockman, George Elmer Browne, Leopold Seyffert, Dean Cornwell, Louis Betts, Wayman Adams, Ulrick Ellerhusen, Jes Schlaikjer, Sidney Dickinson, Eugene Savage, Robert Aitken and John Taylor Arms. This group represents the conservative wing of American art as opposed to the so called modern groups. Plans are to be revealed and a campaign started at a meeting at the Hotel Roosevelt next Thursday evening, to which some 400 artists have been invited. George Elmer Browne, president of the Allied Artists of America, expressed the opinion that the "forming of the Advance American Art Commission is the sounding of the death knell for all existing beliefs of the pseudo-superiority of foreign artists. It is disgraceful the way American painters and sculptors are belittled". Other Artists Debate Issue Other artists expressed varying views about the dismissal of Rivera. A group of artists and writers will meet tonight in the studio of Suzanne La Follette, 22 East Tenth Street, to discuss the situation. Harry Watrous, newly elected president of the National Academy of Design, said "it does not seem to me suitable to put the picture of Lenin in such a composition when 99 per cent of the people of this country do not believe in his principles." John Sloan, president of the Society of Independent Artists, which first showed Rivera's work here some ten years ago, said he could not overestimate the importance to this country of having Rivera's work here. "In my opinion, Rivera is probably the greatest living mural painter --probably the greatest for several centuries--in the direct line of descent from the old masters". Alon Bement, director of the National Alliance of Art and Industry, who saw the Rivera paintings Tuesday afternoon, said he was disappointed that "so great an artist as Rivera should have been willing to relinquish his fine standing as a mural painter and condescend to become a mere propagandist". Artists in West Plan Protest By the Associated Press SANTA FE, N.M., May 10-- Writers, sculptors, and painters of Santa Fe and Taos, two of the most noted American art colonies, were asked today to organize and present a united protest against destruction of paintings of Diego Rivera in the RCA Building in New York. Andrew Dasburg of Santa Fe, internationally known painter now in New York, telegraphed to Santa Fe artists, who immediately set about organizing. Telegrams have been sent to John D. Rockefeller Jr. from here, protesting the action. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 12,1933 LETTERS TO EDITOR THE RIVERA MURALS Opinions For and Against Action at Rockefeller Center To The Editor of The New York Times: If you play in the sunshine, you tan. If you handle mud, you are soiled. If you look at a star, your eyes are open, even when all else is darkness around you. In short, our selection of that which pleases us physically, mentally and spiritually makes us a part of that thing. The works of a great painter not only reflect him but they formulate the thoughts and inclination of others, notably those who follow a leader. Lenin lifted up to the walls of a world-famous building where men, women and youth assemble to admire and emulate the subject portrayed is, or would be if allowed to remain, an insult to the conceptions of all great artists from the early Renaissance period to the present day. Those of us who gaze in rapture at the "Adoration of the Magi", by an early master of the Spanish school, Murillo, or "The Last Supper", by the sometimes humanly carnal minded Leonardo da Vinci, could not endure or tolerate for a moment the elevation to a high place in our own art world of the face of Lenin, whose followers proclaim: "There is no God. Nothing is mightier than man himself!" We must look up for inspiration, and when we lie on the floor of the Sistine Chapel to adore the immortal ceilling we see not only those colossal spokesmen for the uplift of the soul like "Jehovah Giving the Spark of Life to Man", painted by the almost blinded Michelangelo, but in our very act we put dirt and earth, under our feet and see beyond--the stars. ANNA M. L. PHILLIPS New York, May 10, 1933. Defending Rivera To the Editor of The New York Times: I know I am not alone in feeling an injustice has been done in dismissing Diego Rivera. It is apparent from the interchange of letters that the artist was not only reasonable, but also showed a definite desire to cooperate with those who had engaged his services. However there comes a point where further conciliation shows spinelessness and lack of conviction on the part of the artist. It was here Rivera stopped, and it is the same spirit of belief in one's art that has moved many in the past and I hope will continue to do so in the future. The controversial aspect of a work of art is too often exaggerated by just such action as the Rockefellers have taken. Would it not have been better to allow the completion of the mural, Lenin and all, particularly as the original sketches had been approved. Rivera's changes were those of detail, not of form or general concept. But perhaps it would be bad to subject the future dwellers and visitors of this great seventy-story building to the effect of the artist's "propaganda". We might go Communist after all. DUDLEY JOHNSON New York, May 10, 1933 Why Import Artists? To the Editor of The New York Times: Why is it that when American architects, plus American labor, achieve magnificent structures to symbolize the power, courage and success (I mean it) of American capitalism, they must import foreign Communists to decorate them? Do you suppose that the Soviets would allow foreign capitalists to ornament their palaces with the praise of the Fords and Rockefellers and pay them large sums for doing it? Why are we so humble? Why do we admit that foreign artists are better than Americans, when it is impossible to measure beauty and goodness in art? Our architects ought to be smarter in selecting their mural painters. NICHOLAS HAZ Utica, N. Y., May 10, 1933. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 12, 1933 RIVERA LOSES ORDER FOR THE WORLD FAIR Mural for General Motors Is Canceled as a Result of Rockefeller's Action ARTIST MAY STAY IN CITY Plans to Devote Money Paid for Unfinished Lenin Fresco to Art for Workers HIS WORK BEING COVERED An American Artist Likely to Be Engaged to Execute a New Picture for Radio City On the heels of his dismissal from Rockefeller Center, Diego Rivera, noted Mexican artist, received a telegram yesterday canceling his commission to paint a huge mural for the General Motors Building at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. The wording of the telegram, which was sent him by Albert Kahn, architect for the automobile corporation, left Senor Rivera the hope that the decision might not be final. The telegram read: "I have instructions from General Motors executives to discontinue with the Chicago mural. This is undoubtedly due to the notoriety created by the Radio City situation. Am terribly disappointed and will still do my best to get permission for you to proceed." Yesterday afternoon before the telegram arrived Senor Rivera had said that he expected to start for Chicago about May 23 to begin work on the mural for the General Motors Building. This painting, he said, was not to be controversial but was to portray only the beauty and utility of machinery--machinery being one of his favorite subjects. It was to be some 69 by 43 feet, and to be painted in sections on steel frames so that after the exposition it might be moved to a permanent location. Senor Rivera devised his method of painting on plaster encased in steel frames several years ago and used it in executing the frescoes shown in his large exhibition here more than a year ago at the Museum of Modern Art. May Paint Class Murals Here If the decision of the General Motors Corporation should prove final, Senor Rivera said that he would remain in New York and devote the money paid him by John D. Rockefeller Jr., for the uncompleted mural in Rockefeller Center to painting frescoes gratis for the International School of Workers, the Rand School and the New Workers School, which would offer him freedom for class expression. Yesterday afternoon before the arrival of the telegram canceling his Chicago commission, Senor Rivera announced his willingness to paint gratis on any suitable wall space offered him in New York the mural designed for the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center on which he was at work last Tuesday night when dismissed because a portrait of Lenin included in the painting offended the Rockefeller family. However, he insisted that under no circumstances would he eliminate the portrait of Lenin from the painting and thereby "mutilate his artistic conception and abdicate his opinions". There was an appearance of finality about a new canvas covering over the fresco in the RCA Building, which was begun yesterday, after the temporary paper covering had been removed. A spokesman for Rockefeller Center explained that every precaution was being taken in the erection of this new covering to avoid damage to the fresco, but friends of Senor Rivera insisted that holes were being driven into the plaster which would inevitably cause damage. Visitors were not permitted to see the work covering the painting. Uniformed employees and patrolmen were stationed in the hallways. It was explained at the building that wooden strips were being bolted along the top and bottom edges of the fresco and that canvas would be sail stretched from them. An American May Be Engaged It was reported on good authority yesterday that an American artist probably would be employed to execute a painting to be hung over the Rivera Frescoes. The Mexican artist expressed the opinion yesterday that the portrait of Lenin alone had not caused his dismissal but that other revolutionary touches in the painting also had caused annoyance to the Rockefeller family. The general subject of the paintings, he explained was "man at the crossroads looking with uncertainty but with hope for a solution of present difficulties". Yesterday afternoon he issued a statement that said: "The action taken against Diego Rivera's frescoes at Radio City has provoked a wide response among artists, critics, scientists and progressives on the one hand and on the part of workers who have been following the progress of the murals with great interest on the other". The statement added that committees were being formed to protest the artist's release, and that he would discuss the Lenin mural in a "chalk talk" at Town Hall tomorrow night under the auspices of the International Workers School. Last night a group of writers artists and others met in the apartment of Suzanne La Follette at 22 East Tenth Street and heard from Senor Rivera his statement regarding the Rockefeller Center mural. This resolution was adopted: "It is the sense of this meeting that the essential point for the sake of American art of the present and the whole future is that the great work of Rivera be finished by him without further delay and that it be shown to the public". A committee was appointed to see members of the Rockefeller family. The governing board of the newly organized Advance American Art Commission, composed of a group of conservative American artists, issued a statement yesterday in which it asserted that the dismissal of Senor Rivera illustrates the error in bringing foreign artists to this country, particularly when American artists are as great as any foreigners. THE [London] TIMES May 12, 1933 COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA IN FRESCO CONTRACT CANCELLED BY ROCKEFELLER FAMILY FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT NEW YORK, MAY 10--The unwillingness of the Rockefeller family to accept the idea of Diego Rivera, the Mexican mural painter, that all art should be propaganda, and that it was fitting therefore to include in his fresco in the Great Hall of the R.C.A. Building in the Rockefeller Centre a portrait of Lenin supported by a group of proletarians waving red flags, has led to the cancellation of the artist's contract with Rockefeller City, Incorporated. He has been paid his full fee of £21,000 (£4,200 at par], but he will not be allowed to complete the fresco. There was an exchange of letters between the Rockefeller family and Rivera before the decision was taken to cancel his contract. In answer to the family's hope that it might be possible to come to a compromise over the design for the fresco the artist offered to balance a panel showing Lenin joining the hands of a soldier, a workman, and a negro with one picturing Lincoln aiding mankind, but the family objected not only to the figure of Lenin in the fresco but also to what they felt was the overbright colours of the painting as a whole. The fresco, " Human Intelligence in Control of the Forces of Nature," was to have covered a space 63 ft. long and 17 ft. high. At one side of it was to be a chiaroscuro by Frank Brangwyn and on the other one by Jose Maria Sert, the Spanish painter. All three are only partly completed. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 13, 1933 RIVERA MURAL HIDDEN BY A FRESH CANVAS Artist Is Silent on Dispute-- May Paint Fresco Free for the Rand School Diego Rivera's controversial mural in The RCA Building in Rockefeller Center went into an eclipse of indefinite duration yesterday under a blank canvas covering. The job of putting up this new covering was begun Thursday afternoon and yesterday it was completed. So carefully had the canvas been made to match in color the adjacent blank wall space that the casual passer-by hardly would have suspected that the entire area was not virgin plaster. Certainly there was no hint that under this canvas lay the portrait of Lenin that Senor Rivera had painted against the wishes of the Rockefeller family and thereby provoked his dismissal last Tuesday night. Rivera was in consultation with his advisers in his suite at the Hotel Barbizon-Plaza during the afternoon, but made no announcement. The Mexican artist plans no legal steps either against Rockefeller Center or against the General Motors Corporation, which, on Thursday, canceled his commission to paint a huge mural for the General Motors building at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, according to his attorney, Philip Wittenberg. Rivera does not believe that artistic matters should be brought into court. One of those who was in consultation with Senor Rivera yesterday afternoon was Miss Anna Bercowitz, executive director of the Rand School. She said that Senor Rivera, in a conversation with Harry Lichtenberg, a member of the school's board of directors, had volunteered to paint a mural gratis for the school. Two groups of artists and writers living in the West sent telegrams of protest to John D. Rockefeller Jr. Coincidentally, F. Ballard Williams, national chairman of the American Artists Professional League, issued a statement: that an artist of Rivera's power could not confine himself "to the purely decorative demands of the murals in question" and saying that the incident "may appear as one more regrettable instance of our tendency to pursue the lure of foreign names, too often, as it has happened, to our uncalled-for disadvantage and too often as an of front to our own dignity and attainment". THE NEW YORK TIMES May 14, 1933 CAREER OF RIVERA MARKED BY STRIFE Many of His Pictures, Like That in RCA Building Refer to Class Struggles By ANITA BRENNER Diego Rivera faces the biggest battle of his embattled lifetime for the sake of a piece of painted wall on the elevator bank of the RCA tower in Radio City. The stake for Rivera is not financial; he has been paid in full--$21,000 for 1,071 square feet of fresco, spread out upon one large wall, and two smaller flanking panels. Dramatically interrupted last week while finishing the main wall, he discovered that he might lose the mural, something that is his creation but not his property, and he feels about that much as a mother would feel about the death of a child. The loss, too, might mean further opportunities cut short, for some patrons might hesitate to employ a muralist with two such large blank marks against him as the Detroit and Radio City controversies. At best he might win the cold comfort of finishing the mural, with the knowledge that it would be covered up like some archaeological ruin. On the other hand, he might finish his work, and perhaps be assured of its permanency and accessibility, if he removed from one panel a more-than-life-size portrait of Lenin, who is presented joining the hands of soldiers and workers of all races in the foreground of a mass demonstration carrying red banners. Thus he must choose between his ambition and his principles. For if he removes the Lenin and substitutes, as suggested, a portrait of an unknown person, then, in his view, the entire plan of the mural crumbles, for it was conceived to represent Rivera's idea of the official theme: "Man at the cross-roads facing the future with uncertainty but with hope"--a theme true at least of his own position. Lenin as labor Leader The future, as Rivera sees it, is a Socialist scheme of life, achieved through the efforts of labor, and Lenin is portrayed as the labor leader Dar excellence because, says Rivera, "when I think of the supreme type of labor leader I, of course, think of Lenin, and I also think of him because he is the man whom I have loved more than any other in the world. Whom could I substitute? And how could I put an 'unknown man' in the place of leader? The idea would lose all its meaning, and the entire composition would be spoiled. One cannot separate the esthetic from the social and intellectual without damaging the picture as a work of art". Rivera insists that his position as an artist derives as much from his social viewpoint as from his talents, and he contends that "a Communist society is the only one for civilized people". The present controversy is one of many in which Rivera has engaged. In his pictures and the discussions concerning them the so-called class struggle has played an important part. A few months ago a committee of ministers and citizens demanded that his murals in the Detroit Museum, donated by Edsel Ford, be whitewashed because of a "sacrilegious" panel portraying a vaccination in a manner strikingly reminiscent of a Holy Family painting. Rivera said: "This ridiculous attack under the standard of religion is really directed against the esthetic quality (of the murals], a result of the fusion between the scientific-industrial creative beauty of the North and the racial esthetic tradition of the centre of the American Continent". "What I regret is that Edsel Ford should be annoyed, because he wished to give Detroit a work of art with something typically its own, having to do with its distinctive powers of production. But so far as I personally am concerned, this incident in my painter's life is my first positive triumph. I can say without the least exaggeration or pretension that thousands of workers and young people have liked my work. The most highly cultured circle in Detroit, in questions of art, professionals and amateurs, have approved my work, and the attack itself, coming from those who have shown themselves to be class enemies of the workers and ideological enemies of modern culture, is the proof and the confirmation of my success so far as those whom I consider my public goes". The San Francisco Case In San Francisco he was criticized for choosing Helen Wills to represent California in his painting in the Stock Exchange. To which he answered that, in the first place, California was known abroad mainly because of Helen Wills; in the second place, Helen Wills seemed to him to represent California better than anybody he knew for she was young, energetic, beautiful, and intelligent; and finally, he felt that if Helen Wills seemed to him to be the best type to represent California, he had the right to paint her in that place. A painter, he argued, had the right to choose whatever model best fitted his image and idea, regardless absolutely of other considerations--"and, incidentally," he says, "that is the issue at Radio City." Before the San Francisco incident, he had a picturesque battle in Mexico City, in 1922, when he, with Orozco, Siqueiros, Chariot, Covarrubias, and many other artists, was a member of the since famous Syndicate of Painters, Sculptors and Intellectual Workers. This was the body that gave birth to what is now known as the modern Mexican mural renaissance. It was a group committed to revolution in politics and in art, and to painting only propaganda and only murals in public places. Together these artists rediscovered fresco technique and arrived at the style of monumental painting in fresh earth tones characteristic of modern Mexican art. Their first panels were met with outraged cries that Mexico should not be represented by Indians, peasants and revolutionary soldiers; that the women in the murals were ugly, that the buildings in which they were being painted were ruined; that such things were inappropriate for public places. Fighting Over the Murals Siege was laid to the artists by a crowd of Catholic, students, who finally attacked the paintings with knives and stones, and were driven away by other students sympathetic to the painters, who promptly put on guns. Warfare went on for a week, the entire press and public taking part, after which an armistice was declared because a number of foreign artists, writers and scholars wrote and signed a poster-manifesto demanding "protection for art, which is international", and threatening to inform the rest of the world that in Mexico the people were vandals. The President ordered that defacement of the murals cease, but even now an occasional protest is scratched on the painted walls. And before that Rivera had taken part, with Picasso, Gris and other modernists, in the battle for cubism and freedom of expression, and on one occasion, in Spain, he and Picasso were threatened with either jail or the insane asylum or both. Before that, as a student, Rivera joined in strikes in the National Academy preceding the unrest that finally broke out into the civil war ended in 1920. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 14,1933 The Rivera Murals Diego Rivera's changes in his murals at Rockefeller Center may have been, as Dudley Johnson asserts in his letter to The Times, "those of detail, not of form or general concept", but I do not believe that even a noted foreign artist is entitled to abuse American standards of political thought or introduce objectionable propaganda under the guise of art and under the protection of a contract and approval of original sketches which, I take for granted, failed to reveal his subtle intent. Mr. Rockefeller's attitude, is to be warmly commended. It is not a question of the attitude of a capitalist but the attitude to be expected of any proper American citizen.---HARRY D. ROBBINS, Flushing, N. Y. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 14,1933 RIVERA SAYS HIS ART IS RED PROPAGANDA He Came to the United States to Advance the Cause of the Proletariat, He Admits 'DISGUISED' HIS MISSION Adopted Tactics of 'a Man in War', to Paint Here What the Workers Want 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. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 14, 1933 IN THE REALM OF ART: AMID MAINLY ABOUT SCULPTURE Group Show in Philadelphia--"Sources" at Museum of Modern Art--Rivera Ousted By EDWARD ALDEN JEWELL SENOR RIVERA is establishing a front-page record. It seems no time at all since the sensational affair at the Detroit Museum, with the alarming talk of whitewash on the score of "blasphemy". Last week came the even more sensational climax, at Rockefeller Center. Unless these differences can be adjusted it now looks as if the mural by Diego Rivera might eventually be taken from the walls. Since the work is done in fresco, this would mean either a very hazardous and delicate operation, or recourse to pick and wheelbarrow. Into the issue it is impossible to go extensively today. I had planned to see the Rivera mural late in the week, on the strength of a report that the job was nearly completed. Meanwhile, fate has intervened and, at the moment of writing, a screen of oblivion stands in the way. The issue appears to involve two major aspects, one of them subject, the other harmony, or a lack of it, as related to the entire plan of decoration for the great entrance hall of the RCA building. According to news accounts it looks as if the painter had developed thematic material not specifically indicated in the original sketch as accepted by the art committee, and this brings into prominance the whole controversial question of propaganda's place in art. With propaganda, strictly speaking, this department does not concern itself. Still, the problem may well need an ultimate threshing out, since it has for centuries figured in a realm mainly involving consideration of esthetic procedure. The question of harmonious relationship, whether with regard to theme or with regard to color and composition, cannot very well be discussed at this time, since the combined task assigned to three artists has not as yet been carried far enough to make judgment possible. The Sert murals are installed, but the Brangwyn murals, still unfinished, have not been shipped over from England. The art committee's decision in the first place to assemble as a decorative unit in one room the work of three artists so dissimilar in almost every respect as Rivera, Sert and Brangwyn has all along seemed not a little extraordinary; though miracles, as we know, do sometimes happen. For the present the troubled issue must be left suspended in midair, with thunderheads rolling up portentously from every sector of the horizon. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 15, 1933 COMRADE RIVERA CAUSES RED ROW 400 Radicals Boo and Hiss When Communist Calls the Artist 'Mister' WILL PICKET RADIO CITY Mexican Says He Will Be Ready to Do More Than Paint for the Proletarian Revolution Radical groups that assembled last night in Irving Plaza, East Fifteenth Street and Irving Place, to organize a "unified front committee" to protest against the veiling of the Diego Rivera murals in Radio City, booed and hissed one another before they united in a plan of action. Speakers and sympathizers of the John Reed Club, a Communist organization that has long borne Rivera a grudge for selling his genius to capitalists who had the money to buy, started the uproar. They were in accord with a resolution protesting against "Rockefeller vandalism" but would not yield to a clause preventing "recrimination" as to "certain actions of Rivera or of any of the participating organizations included in the united front committee". When Phil Bard of the John Reed club started to speak he made a point of referring to the mural painter as "Mr. Rivera". "Shame" Cried at Speaker "Shame!" cried the members of the Communist Opposition (the Lovestoneites), and the Trotskyites. "Call him comrade". Rivera puffed nervously at his cigar and his feet tapped a jig. "I'll make this concession", said the speaker stubbornly, "I'll refer to him as Diego Rivera". Howls and hisses from the 400 men and women in the hall greeted the announcement. Someone cried "kick him out." Peace of a sort, was restored. Ben Shahn, one of the artists who assisted Rivera at Radio City, announced that representatives of the fifteen organizations participating in the more or less united front would picket Radio City between 6 and 8 P. M. next Wednesday with banners and placards and that an open-air meeting would be held in Columbus Circle the same night. Finally Rivera was called upon to speak. When he got up, so did everybody else, and he joined in singing the "Internationale". Rivera in "Proletarian Army" In Spanish, French and English he called on the workers of the world to unite and he smiled his satisfaction when he was applauded. He went on, in Spanish, to say that he was "nothing but a soldier of the proletarian army" and to remind the audience that they were present to "unite the ranks against fascism and against capitalist attacks". "I am here," said the artist, "in the name of those who have worked with me day and night when we tried to speed up completion of our painting before it could be destroyed." He went on to say that capitalist buildings here and in Mexico contained his works, but promised the audience that "if you will it and unite, the day will come when those buildings and all that is in them will belong to the workers." "The painting which my comrades and I have painted represent only one thing," he said. "They represent the color, the banner of the proletariat; they represent the signal of the direction in which the proletariat must go." "I beg of you to omit the name of Rivera from this fight, and when the day comes that something more than painting or talk is required--in that day, either with your good will or without it {if necessary), against it, Comrade Rivera will stand in his place along with the rest of the revolutionary workers." THE ART DIGEST May 15, 1933 Rivera Again Diego Rivera is in the limelight again. With the smoke of the Detroit controversy scarcely settled, the powers that rule Rockefeller Center called the noted Mexican muralist from his scaffold in the RCA Building, where he was putting the finishing touches to his vast picture, handed him a check for the balance of his contract (making $21,000 in all), and dismissed him much after the manner of an ordinary proletarian. Once more Rivera had caused a tempest in art circles and given the hard working city editors valuable "copy". The immediate cause of the dismissal, as stated in the press, was Rivera's refusal to acceed to Nelson A. Rockefeller's request that he remove Lenin's head from the fresco because it "might very easily seriously offend a great many people". Lenin, represented as the "great leader", is shown joining the hands of a soldier, a worker and a Negro. From other sources, however, it became known that the artist's entire conception was objected to because of its communistic theme, although the original sketches had been accepted; and it was declared that the vivid colors of the painting did not harmonize with the other decorations. It will be remembered that two other foreign artists were commissioned to furnish murals for the huge hall--Jose Maria Sert of Spain and Frank Brangwyn of England. Serf's decorations have already been installed, while Brangwyn's have been delayed by the artist's illness. The title of Rivera's mural had been announced as "Human Intelligence in Possession of the Forces of Nature". The New York dismissal was not the end of Rivera's troubles. Another blow was to fall. Three days after the Rockefeller dismissal he received a telegram informing him of the cancellation of his commission to paint another huge mural on the walls of the General Motors Building at the Century of Progress Exposition. The telegram, signed by Albert Kahn, architect for the automobile corporation, said: "I have instructions from General Motors executives to discontinue with the Chicago mural. This is undoubtedly due to the notoriety created by the Radio City situation. Am terribly disappointed and will still do my best to get permission for you to proceed." The Chicago mural, according to Rivera, was not to be controversial but was to portray only the beauty and utility of machinery. Rivera, who has at various times contended that art which is not propaganda is not art at all, stated that the Rockefeller Center trouble is "not a legal question". It is a moral question. They have violated two fundamental, elementary rights--the right of the artist to create, to express himself, and the right to receive the judgment of the world, of posterity. "They have no right, this little group of commercial-minded people, to assassinate my work and that of my colleagues, and if they veil it, cover it with tar paper as they have done, that is as much assassination as its complete destruction would be". The New York American hit editorially at the Communistic angle of the controversy: "American murals of semi-public character, if the very highest principles of decorative art are to be subserved, ought to represent in some way the American spirit, if not the American scene. But there is certainly nothing American about Communism, which Senor Rivera chose to celebrate in his design, and not even a flaming Red would pretend that Lenin belongs in the Pantheon of American heroes". "The finale of it all is that Don Rivera has lost his Rockefeller job for presuming to make a Communist cartoon out of what was intended to be idealistic and beautiful". "If the penalty seems harsh to him and his doctrinaire sympathizers, let him bless his lucky stars that it happened in America". "He has his liberty and received his pay in full". "In Russia, had he exercised a questionable liberty contrary to the sentiments of the 'governing classes', the Cheka would have had him in prison before now and probably on the road to Siberia". Meanwhile individuals and groups have hastened to take sides. The Communist party charged that the dismissal of Rivera was an atrocity of the same magnitude with "the vicious deeds of Hitler". Demonstrations in protest before the building were broken up by the police. A group of artists met in the studio of Suzanne La Follette to discuss ways and means. On the other side the newly organized Advance American Art Commission, composed of a group of well-known American artists, issued the following statement: "Mr. Rockefeller is to be commended on his action in discharging Rivera in defense of the right of the American people to their beliefs and form of government; but the Advance American Art Commision feels that this incident illustrates the error in bringing foreign artists to this country, particularly when American artists are as great as any foreigner and when the rest of the world excludes American artists". The commission's governing board is composed of De Witt M. Lockman, George Elmer Browne, Leopold Seyffert, Dean Cornwell, Louis Betts, Wayman Adams, Ulric Ellerhusen, Joseph Schlaikjer, Sidney Dickinson, Eugene Savage, Robert Aitken and John Taylor Arms. It has been reported on good authority that a prominent American ' artist will be engaged to paint a "mural to be hung over the Rivera frescoes. If the decisions of both General Motors and the Rockefeller interests are final, Rivera says he will remain in New York and spend the money already paid him in painting murals, free of charge, for the Rand School, the International School of Workers and the New Workers School. The New York Herald Tribune points out that this would give him perfect liberty to express any class feeling he may desire. All doubt of the orthodoxy of Rivera's communism was dispelled at the protest meeting in the Town Hall auditorium, where he led the singing of the "Internationale", was saluted as "Comrade Rivera" and expounded a wholehearted defense of art for propaganda purposes as a weapon of the worker against the capitalistic class. "Art", he said, "is not what the decadent bourgeois say it is--inspired, coming from above, to be enjoyed in leisure. Art is the life blood of a people". Throwing down the gauntlet to the Fords and the Rockefellers, the artist spoke of his entry into the United States. "I had to come in as a spy, in disguise", he was quoted as saying in the New York Herald Tribune. "At first I kept my principles in the background. Then, as they came to me more and more, my ideas became clearer in my work. Finally, in the murals in Detroit, I expressed by true analysis life in an industrial country". Proof that it was a "true analysis", he said, was found in the fact that the bourgeoisie immediately attacked it and the proletariat as readily rose to defend it. Speaking of the Rockefeller fresco, he said: "I could not have painted any man but Lenin as that leader, but then they would have fired me anyhow--for that fresco was the first collected work of art expressing the unity of science and art, and expressing the feelings and philosophy of the proletariat. And someday when you workers take your proper place and that building assumes its proper function, it will be revealed. Will Rogers, America's humorist, writing in his special department of the New York Times, summed up the affair in his own characteristic way. "I string with Rockefeller", he said. "This artist was selling some art and sneaking in some propaganda. Rockefeller had ordered a plain ham sandwich, but the cook put some onions on it. Rockefeller says, 'I will pay you for it, but I won't eat the onions'. Now the above is said in no disparagement of the Mexican artist, for he is the best in the world, but you should never try to fool a Rockefeller in oil". THE WASHINGTON POST May 15, 1933 THE ONCE OVER By H.I. Phillips MR. RIVERA AND MR. ROCKEFELLER (Diego,Rivera, Mexican artist has been dropped by Radio City for including a picture of Lenin in his murals--News Item) Mr. Rivera--You don't seem to grasp the artist's viewpoint, Mr. Rockefeller. Mr. Rockefeller--And the completeness with which you grasp mine is something less than uncanny, Mr. Rivera: The Idea of putting Lenin in Radio City! Tcht! Tcht! Mr. Rivera--Didn't you see my sketches when you hired me? Mr. Rockefeller--Yes, didn't you? Mr. Rivera--I told you in the first place that I intended to include a picture of a great public leader... Mr. Rockefeller--You didn't tell me it would be Lenin. Mr. Rlvera--Can I help it it you didn't ask me? Mr. Rockefeller--When a man comes into one of our gas stations for ten gallons of gas, we don't do an overhauling job and change his radiator ornament. What would you think if Ed Wynn, after signing up on a gasoline program to play the Perfect Fool, put on Rasputin and the Empress? Mr. Rivera--I didn't intend putting Lenin in the mural at first. He just developed. Mr. Rockefeller--Well, you can't use Standard oil for a developing fluid, Mr. Rivera. Mr. Rivera--What's your objection to Lenin? Don't you think he looks good in oil? Mr. Rockefeller--Cooking or painting? Mr. Rlvera--Lenin is the outstanding public leader of the last century. Mr. Rockefeller--Even if I thought so, you could hardly expect me to dedicate Radio City to his memory. It strikes me as a little absurd to think of me as paying real money to glorify Red Russia. You wouldn't put Hitler in a mural for the B'nai B'rith Temple, would you? Mr. Rivera--I never can tell what I will do until I got warmed up. Mr. Rockefeller--To avoid confusion you should never start with a cold motor. Mr. Rivera--But. Mr. Rockefeller. I contend that a capitalist has no right to interfere with a man's art. Mr. Rockefeller--Let me put a questlon in all fairness? If Stalin hired you to do some Moscow murals, would you expect him to be pleased it you stuck in a picture of my father? Mr. Rivera--Don't be silly. Mr. Rockefeller--It is just possible that's what Stalin would tell you. Mr. RIvera--There is no use arguing. Your mind and mine don't work in the same channel. Mr. Rockefeller--Channel. Mr. Rivera? You're trying to pull me into the Red Sea! THE NEW YORK TIMES May 16, 1933 TOPICS OF THE TIMES Rivera's Wrong Pew Can it be that Diego Rivera, in designing a Lenin fresco for the walls of a Rockefeller building, was thinking of 26 Broadway instead of Sixth Avenue and Fiftieth Street? From the famous downtown address the personal offices of the Rockefeller family will soon move to the seventy-story building in Rockefeller Center. It was for the lobby here that the Mexican painter devised his anti-capitalist allegory. At 26 Broadway a mural prophecy of the downfall of the present economic system might conceivably be appropriate. For at 26 Broadway are housed all the activities by which the Rockefeller fortune has been amassed. But in the RCA Building at Fiftieth Street are housed all the Foundations and activities by which the Rockefeller fortune is being distributed in manifold benefactions. Why spread Lenin over the walls of the lobby there? It puts Lenin in the position of hating most the good side of capitalism. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 18, 1933 ART ROW PRESSED BY RIVERA FRIENDS All-Day Round of Activities Includes Noisy Picketing of the Rockefeller Home NATIVE ARTISTS PROTEST Fine Arts Federation Scores 'Unfair Competition' by Aliens-- Painter Speaks on Radio While Diego Rivera and his Communist sympathizers and other supporters continued yesterday to denounce the veiling of his incompleted mural in the RCA building at Rockefeller Center, the Fine Arts Federation of New York, comprising sixteen art societies, launched a protest against "unfair competition and exploitation" by foreign artists. Senor Rivera and his friends carried on their campaign from morning till late at night. Reaching a climax with picketing and shouting in front of the Rockefeller residence in East Fifty-fourth Street, it also included an address by the painter before the Art Students League, a mass meeting in Columbus Circle, a radio address and a protest meeting last night at the John Reed Club, 583 Sixth Avenue, an organization of radical writers and artists. The protest meeting, however, was far from unanimous in support of the artist. Instead, he was denounced as a "reactionary", a "counter-revolutionary" and as one who had "betrayed the masses" by several speakers at the meeting, which was attended by about 300 persons. Among those who denounced Rivera were Joseph Freeman, editor of the New Masses; Robert Minor, radical cartoonist, and Sidney Blomfield. Other speakers defended him. Fine Arts Group Meets At the Fine Arts Federation meeting at 115 East Fortieth Street, Senor Rivera was not mentioned by name, but a resolution was adopted, "that it is the sense of this meeting that the federation is in hearty sympathy with all efforts looking toward a more widespread recognition and appreciation of the work of American artists; and that it advises a protest, whenever possible, against unfair competition and exploitation on the part of foreign artists to the disadvantage of equally meritorius American art." The picketing of the Rockefeller mansion was an impromptu outgrowth of the Columbus Circle mass meeting, and took place after the radicals had tired of picketing the building at Rockefeller Center which houses the incompleted mural, and to which they had marched from their meeting. The 200 marchers carried placards, some of which read "Save Rivera's murals from Rockefeller vandalism", "Lenin, leader of the working class---Rockefeller, murderer of the Ludlow workers", "Hitler and Rockefeller stifle culture", and "mass struggle for the arts of the masses". At the Rockefeller home several policemen stood before the entrance door and maintained expressions of grim self-control as the marchers walked up and down the block shouting in unison: "Unveil Rivera's murals!" At no time was there any violent disturbance. Rivera Speaks on Radio Senor Rivera's radio address was made from WEVD, where he was introduced by Heywood Broun. The painter said the Rockefeller family was well aware of his Communist beliefs when they hired him, that he had not sought the contract but had consented to take it after repeated invitations, that "the same persons were intested in the Museum of Modern Art," where Rivera's paintings, revealing his method, had previously been exhibited. "Mr. Rockefeller had not right to expect that my work would be of a different character," he said. "Even a millionaire should know that there are some things that cannot be bought and sold." THE WASHINGTON POST May 18, 1933 'LEFT WING' PARADES TO SUPPORT RIVERA NEW YORK, May 17 (A.P.)--With a wave of placards denouncing stoppage of work on Diego Rivera's mural, left-wing political and art groups united tonight in picketing Rockefeller Center. For two hours, 400 men and women paraded past the entrance to the R.C.A. Building--the center's dominant 70-story structure inside whose main entrance a canvas screen covers the proletarian panorama, work on which was ordered stopped by John D. Rockefeller Jr. after Rivera refused to delete a head of Lenin. The picketing followed upon a mass meeting at Columbus Circle--enlivened by the dousing of two police office buildings. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 21, 1933 RIVERA TO PAINT MURAL Will Use Rejected Design in Panels for Rand Schools The mural design by Diego Rivera that was rejected at Rockefeller Center will adorn the Meyer London Memorial Library at the Rand School of Social Science, 7 East Fifteenth Street, it was announced yesterday at the school. According to the announcement, because of the difference in wall space the central working-class theme of the mural will be retained, with special application to the American labor movement. Mr. Rivera has suggested that he portray Eugene V. Debs, Socialist leader; Abraham Lincoln and John Brown in the panels. While the artist is on the scaffold placing the panels admissions will be charged, the money to go to the Rand School drive for $17,000. The school has for a slogan "Save the Rand School for Rivera's Art". THE NEW YORK TIMES May 20, 1933 ART: Diego Rivera's Mural In Rockefeller Center Rejected A canvas, innocently blank, goes up 30 censorious feet into the tense air in the great hall of the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center, New York. In front of it paces a policeman, shooing away crowds that mill about the lobbies. Behind the canvas flame the deep reds of a mural by the Mexican proletarian artist, Diego Rivera--reds rejected of the Rockefellers. Rarely in the long history of art controversies has so much furor been aroused as was caused by front page stories in last week's papers. These announced that the huge mural, which was to adorn the central position in the central building of Rockefeller Center, had been turned down by representatives of the Rockefellers because in it there appeared a portrait of Vladimir Illyth Ulianov, known to the world as Lenin. Diego Rivera's Lenin Rivera's supporters compared the treatment accorded their shaggy artist-hero with that meted out to Michelangelo by the Popes. An hour after word got down to Union Square that Rivera had been discharged, there were hatless art students and radicals struggling with bewildered police all over Rockefeller Center, shouting: "We want Rivera". Proletarian taxi drivers, waiting for fares in front of the Roxy Music Hall, a half block away, scrambled out of their cabs to join fists with the police in repelling the invaders. Riot cars hooted through the side streets, and up aristocratic Fifth Avenue. For the Mexican artist, the rejection came with thunderbolt swiftness. On the evening of May 9 he was up on a scaffold in front of his almost completed mural, splashing happily away on his conception of "Human Intelligence in Control of the Forces of Nature". The job was nearly done, and in Rivera's opinion it was to be his masterpiece. Grim Across the top of the mural he had grouped on one side soldiers, grimgreen in gas-masks, about to launch a headlong attack upon marching columns of workers and peasants coming up against a background of red flags, singing, it was not hard to guess, "The Internationale". In a fierce light at the head of a worker (model for which, by the way, was a nephew of John F. Curry, leader of Tammany Hall) brooding over a television machine, which disclosed to him two wingshaped objects on which were magnified, in writhing colors, the germs which assail mankind. Below, radicals, bearing banners: "Free Tom Mooney", "We Want Work, not Charity", "Down with Imperialist Wars", were depicted scuffling with club-swinging police against the background of Trinity Church. There was a panel of a radical meeting; another of a society group playing bridge. Sudden And then, of a sudden, there emerged the Buddha-like form of Lenin joining the hands of a Negro and a white worker. As Senor Rivera put his earthly colors on the wet plaster, which when it dries becomes part of the wall, a representative of Todd, Robertson & Todd Engineering Corporation, builders and managers of Rockefeller Center, told the artist that he was wanted in his studio on the mezzanine floor of the 70-story building. He found there a check for $14,000, the balance due him on his contract for $21,000 for the completed mural. Also a letter stating that his mural was unacceptable to the Rockefeller family. This was a sequel to an earlier letter from Nelson A. Rockefeller, in which the young grandson of John D. Rockefeller said: Letter "I noticed that in the most recent portion of the painting you had included a portrait of Lenin. This piece is beautifully painted, but it ; seems to me that his portrait, appearing in this mural, might very easily seriously offend a great many people. If it were in a private house it would be one thing but this mural is in a public building, and the situation is therefore quite different. As much as I dislike to do so, I am afraid we must ask you to substitute the face of some unknown man where Lenins's face now appears". To this Senor Rivera said he had answered that, to balance Lenin, he would gladly show Lincoln freeing the slaves or a picture of John Brown or William Lloyd Garrison. Besides, as Senor Rivera explained to a packed Town Hall meeting last Saturday night, the whole business was part of a prop• aganda mission which he had undertaken, when he came to this country in 1931. Then he stirred the art world with an exhibit viewed with enthusiasm by Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr., and her son, Nelson. Disguised The artist said that "friends in Moscow" had told him that the sort of painting he had done in Mexico was all right for peasants, but that in an industrial country like the United States he would have to change his style, always keeping in mind that "in all cases the workers and peasants are right and that the artist should paint what the workers and peasants want". "The only thing for me to do", he said naively, "was to try it out in an industrial country... In order to get here I had to do as a man in war. Sometimes, in times of war, a man disguises himself as a tree. My paintings in this country have become increasingly and gradually dearer". Irate While his indignant sympathizers were planning further picketing of the Center, Senor Rivera received a telegram from the General Motors Company in Detroit. There murals by Rivera have already proved a storm center. The telegram said that his commission for murals for the automobile company's exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair would be canceled. Thereupon the irate artist announced that he would spend the $14,000 of Rockefeller money, just paid him, painting a mural in the dingy library of the Rand School fon Social Science at 7 East 15th Street, New York, Socialist headquarters. There he will paint solely for "my own people, the working people". THE NEW YORK TIMES May 22, 1933 BLASHFIELD UPHOLDS DISMISSAL OF RIVERA If Mexican's Art Opposed Our Government It Should Not Be Tolerated, He Says Edwin H. Blashfield, dean of American mural painters, expressed approval yesterday of the refusal of the Rockefellers to permit Diego Rivera, radical Mexican artist, to complete his much-discussed mural on the walls of the RCA building in Rockefeller Center. "If Rivera's art expressed opposition to the American Government", he said, "it should not be tolerated by the American people". The artist also deplored the hiring of foreign painters to depict American scenes. American artists, he contended, understand better the subject-matter of their country. "We should continue to welcome foreign painters here", he said, "but where a choice is possible, our own artists should be given preference". Frederick K. Detwiller, painter, and president of the Artists of Carnegie Hall, said: "We do not say that nationality should affect the prestige of an artist one way or another. We merely demand that the American artists be given equal opportunities with the artists of the world. When an important piece of work is to be done, such as the murals in Rockefeller Center, whether it is for a public institution or not, open competition for the job should be held and internationally advertised." TIME MAGAZINE, XXI, 21 May 22, 1933 ART Rockefellers v. Rivera Into the lobby of Rockefeller Center's towering RCA Building last week stalked Rental Manager Hugh Robertson, followed by twelve uniformed guards. The procession halted before a huge (63 ft. by 17 ft.) unfinished fresco on the wall facing the doors. Its bright colors and hard, compact figures filled the lobby like a parade. Oil scaffolding before it stood a big, drooping man with a gloomy face and sad Mexican eves: Diego Rivera. the world's foremost living fresco painter. A guard called to Rivera to come down from his scaffold. He laid down his big brushes and the tin kitchen plate he uses for a palette. climbed nimbly down the ladder. Mr. Robertson handed him an envelop. It held a check for $14.000. last payment on the $21,000 due Rivera for his work. It held too a letter telling him he was fired. Artist Rivera woodenly went to his work shack on the lobby balcony to change from his overalls. At once more guards appeared, pushed away the movable scaffold. Others came with planking. Within half an hour, the unfinished fresco was covered with tarpaper and a wooden screen. Meanwhile one of Rivera's assistants rushed hysterically out to the restaurant where six other assistants were dying to spread the news and detonate 1933's biggest art story. The seven assistants rushed back, gibbering with indignation. Assistant Lucienne Bloch, daughter of Swiss Composer Ernest Bloch. scraped the white paint off two second-story windows to form the words: "Workers Unite." "Help! Protect Rivera M. ." Guards stopped her from finishing the word '-Murals." By nightfall Communists began to swarm in Rockefeller Plaza, the new thoroughfare cutting through Rockefeller Center. They churned about. cheering for the man whom they had read out of their party four years ago. waving banners "Save Rivera's Painting," marching & counter-marching around the RCA Building. Mounted police pranced on the outskirts. shooed them away before audiences issuing from the two Rockefeller Center cinema houses could jam the district. Next day newspapers splashed across their front pages the ostensible reason for all the hubbub. On May 1 (May Day). near the centre of the Fresco had appeared a small head of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s son Nelson had asked Rivera "to substitute the face of some unknown man where Lenin's face now appears." Rivera had countered by offering to balance Lenin with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. The Rockefellers exploded, fired Rivera. Four nights later Rivera. his temper hidden by a lazy smile. toil an audience in Manhattans Town Hall that of course his art was Communistic propaganda. After the Communists had read him out of the party. "one thing was left for me: to prove that my theory would be accepted in an industrial nation where capitalists rule. . . , I had to come as a spy in disguise. Sometimes in times of war a man disguises himself as a tree. My paintings in this country have become increasingly and gradually clearer." Speaking in French he said. "Art is like ham-it nourishes people." The interpreter translated jam bon as --food." The audience shouted "Ham!" and Rivera nodded. He concluded, "Because there is a logic of history. the RCA Building will assume its real function--the time depend upon the will of the workers." While everybody went off half-cocked, the facts slowly emerged. Last November Todd. Robertson. Todd. building & renting managers of Rockefeller Center. planned the RCA Building's lobby as a liberal museum- They selected the social-technical theme. "New Frontiers." to be executed by three foreign muralists. Spanish Jose Maria Sert, British Frank Brangwyn and Mexican Diego Rivera. To Rivera was assigned the subject, "Man at the crossroads looking with uncertainty but hope for a new solution." Last November, at the depression's low. the U. S. was pessimistic: capitalists pondered Communists, wondered whether Revolution was a possibility. To River's hiring by the Rockefellers the publicity was tremendous. Rivera knew that John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s wife and his son Nelson were trustees of Manhattans Museum of Modern Art which gave Rivera a show a year ago. In that show was many a frankly Communistic picture by Rivera, notably a fresco Frozen Assets, showing starving men, idle mills. In early March, one of Rockefeller Center's architects, Raymond Hood, went to Detroit where Rivera was finishing his frescoes for the Detroit Institute of Arts--He approved Rivera's big, colored sketch for Rockefeller Center. The sketch showed a central figure who looked like a blond Russian (eventually posed by Tammany Boss John Francis Curry's grandnephew Hugh Jr. 22) under a big television machine which projected on the rest of the design the workers choices. These were: marching soldiers with gas-masked heads like wasps; Communists trooping in Moscow's Red Square; a group of unemployed rioting under hardjawed mounted police: socialite bridgeplayers and fox-trotters: women exercising; students; a worker, a student and an unemployed worker listening to a Leader. Through the composition crisscrossed two spurs, showing enormously magnified disease bacteria and a galaxy of constellations. Rivera produced another preliminary sketch in black and white and a third, larger one in full color. Both of these were approved by Todd. Robertson, Todd. In none was the head of the Leader that of Lenin. Late in March Rivera squared off at his bare white wall in the RCA lobby. Tickets were issued to watch him do his daily stint. Art students, businessmen and Communists bought tickets as Rivera slowly spread paint down over the wall in a characteristic composition made up of huge. chunky units. Rockefeller Center workmen came free. Painting directly on wet plaster as in all true fresco, Rivera put on the wall the essentials of his submitted and approved sketches. Nelson Rockefeller came too to watch, told Rivera he liked the fresco. On May Day Rivera came to the head of the Leader, made it the head of Lenin. Soon afterwards Rivera and his assistants became aware of a changed attitude in Rockefeller Center. The number of guards was increased. When Rivera brought men to photograph his fresco, they were sent away. Personal feuds sprang up between the Rockefeller Center guards and Rivera's assistants. A guard threatened to brain an assistant if he tried to take a snapshot. Rivera's heavy scaffolding was replaced by a movable scaffold. Rivera draped tracing paper over the outside railing. screening the platform from the guards, and a woman assistant took a camera from under her skirt to photograph, close up. part of the fresco. The scaffold was moved. the operation repeated until Rivera had photographs of the whole fresco. He was scarcely surprised that the Rockefellers objected to his work when they saw it as living art and realized what it meant. Last week Rivera cashed his $14,000 check. went to see his lawyer. He was told he might sue to establish an artist's dubious right under an "implied covenant" to force exhibition of his work. but that he had no legal right to the fresco he had sold and been paid for. He fell back on "a moral question" of the artist's right "to express himself: and the right to receive the judgment of the world, of posterity" Said he: "They have no right, this little group of commercial minded people, to assassinate my work and that of my colleagues They accepted my sketches." He offered to do the whole thing over gratis on any fit Manhattan wall offered him. To this the Rockefellers said nothing. The RCA Building was on the newspapers' front pages again. They noted that Communistic Rivera who needs walls to work or has worked on the walls of "commercial minded" people exclusively for the past year. River's next commission after the RCA Building was a "Forge and Foundry mural lot General Motors Corp. at its building in Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition. After the Rivera-Rockefeller ruckus, General Motors paused to consider what it had better do. THE NATION May 24, 1933 Rivera's Revolution That monstrous Armenian orphan of the depression, Rockefeller Center, is having art trouble again. Statues by Gwen Lux and William Zorach which had been ordered and set up, and Robert Edmond Jones who had been hired as art director, were all thrown out of Radio City because the mind of Roxy, softened by too much contact with his own "stage shows", obviously could not stand the impact of vigorous and authentic art. And now a fresco by Diego Rivera, admitted to be at least one of the world's leading artist, is indefinitely covered with brown paper because a renting agent says his clients (if any) will refuse to do business under the same roof with Lenin's head. In both cases the blame been laid upon that forever intolerant Mrs. Grundy, "the public". The public, said Roxy, would be offended by the nude statues of Lux and Zorach. "A great many people", wrote Nelson Rockefeller to Diego Rivera, would be seriously offended at meeting Lenin in the lobby of No. 1 building at Rockefeller Center. In the first instance, "the public," because of the publicity, became so interested that the nude statues were restored and so far as we know no cases of moral degeneration have as yet resulted. In the present instance, we doubt very much that the head of Lenin alone would upset an average business man or cause a revolution. The average business man would probably not recognize Lenin unless he were introduced (by a renting agent) and revolutions are not generally caused by a picture of Lenin on the wall. The trouble between Rivera and Rockefeller Center really began long before the head of Lenin appeared. Rivera was requested to do a genuine fresco--in monotones. A real fresco, replied Rivera, is impossible in monotone colors. So he was given permission to use bright color. Apparently through an unfortunate oversight he was not asked to avoid red. And what really upset the renting agent--and would have upset the average business man--were the red flags and the slogans in Rivera's fresco. The objections were put differently of course--shall we say in monotone terms? "The description you gave us... led us to believe that your work would be purely imaginative". "The understanding was that slight coloring would be used. The bright colors have therefore provoked considerable discussion". The features of Lenin, it is true, did not appear in the preliminary sketch but at the same time it is apparent that they are completely consistent with the conception as a whole. The objections of the renting agent, then are simpleminded but perfectly clear. But it is difficult to'see how the Rockefellers could have let themselves in for an embarrassing situation that in the circumstances was absolutely inevitable. The Rockefellers in recent years have shown an appreciation of Rivera's work which has resulted in a most praiseworthy campaign on, their part to make it known in America. But they could not have understood his work very thoroughly and still have expected him to do an uncontroversial and "highly imaginative" fresco for a capitalist building in New York City. He is a known Communist, though he has been ousted by the official party. The whole conception of the fresco is revolutionary, and that fact was just as evident in the sketches he submitted as it is in the finished work. In including the portrait of Lenin he did nothing that the Rockefellers might not have foreseen. Rivera has set down in one of his most famous panels in the Education Building in Mexico City his conception of a capitalist. It is not a pretty one and its model is John D. Rockefeller, Sr. As everyone knows, the capitalist is dining with friends and the food they are eating is money. No one, after seeing that panel, could mistake Diego Rivera's attitude toward capitalists in general, Rockefeller in particular, and that commodity which was the original bases of their fame, namely, money. Rivera has done nothing since then to indicate that he would accommodate his art to the tastes of those who hired him. The Rockefellers are faced with the logical result of their original acceptance as a great artist of the Communist Rivera. The only dignified way out is for them to accept it and allow the fresco to be finished and exhibited. Otherwise they will be put in the position of preferringa renting agent to Rivera--of preferring business to art which is unthinkable. As for the fate of the fresco, we cannot believe that it will be destroyed. We are sure that the Rockefellers realize that a Rivera fresco will outlive the species renting agent. And so we confidently hope that the fresco will be finished and preserved in the interests of art. It is an excellent reason. THE NEW REPUBLIC May 24, 1933 Art for Propaganda's Sake DIEGO RIVERA'S frank statement that on the advice of friends in Moscow he came to this country as a propagandist for the proletariat--which, in a capitalist country, is to say for revolution--is consistent with his position in the controversy over his dismissal as he was finishing his great fresco at Rockefeller Center. From the first Mr. Rivers has contended that the political value of his work is more important to him than its artistic value. He has steadily maintained, and with reason, that the disputed fresco would still be revolutionary if he substituted another leader, real or symbolic, for the portrait of Lenin to which. the Rockefeller objected, and that he prefers to have the whole painting destroyed rather than make the substitution. His announcement may appear to prevent all defense of his work on the ground of its art, or because the artist is superior to politics. Certainly it has calmed the enthusiasm of many of his bourgeois partisans. Nevertheless art does not become nothing but propaganda simply because the artist frankly and honorably states his own convictions. Nothing that Mr. Rivera has said has altered the position of the Rockefeller family, which is selfcontradictory, or their tactics, which were arbitrary and insulting. The question still remains, Why did they employ Rivera? They are among the outstanding beneficiaries of the capitalist order. Rivera is avowedly anti-capitalist in his convictions and his art. As The New York Times remarked after his dismissal, his fresco, on the walls of a building owned by the Rockefellers, is like a row of swastikas over a synagogue. But if you don't want swastikas over your synagogue, you don't employ an artist whom you know to be a specialist in swastikas. An artist is no mere technician. When Millet saw what William Morris Hunt had learned in the studio of Couture, he asked, "What have you to say with it?" What Rivera says with his magnificent technical equipment is no secret to the Rockefeller family. He had caricatured the elder John D. Rockefeller in his "billionaires" group in Mexico-and the caricature appears in the portfolio of photographs of the Mexican frescoes published by the Museum of Modern Art, which the Rockefellers help largely to finance. Knowing of the caricature, and knowing also the revolutionary character of those frescoes and of Rivera's work generally, they brought him to New York and had his work exhibited at the Modern Museum. Then they commissioned him to paint the fresco at Rockefeller Center, and accepted his preliminary sketches. Their action in employing him seems to us more inconsistent with their position in the capitalist world than their action in dismissing him. Their behavior indicates a sudden and perplexing volteface, and only the painter's own action in removing the whole question from the field of art into that of politics has saved them from an extremely embarrassing position. It looks as if the Rockefellers or their agents had become panicky. It was unnecessary to send a whole army of policemen and plain-clothes men against a man armed only with paintbrushes. It was also unnecessary to persuade the telephone company to cut off his private telephone in the mezzanine--as if he might use it to summon an opposing host! Their action, and the manner in which it was taken, have precipitated a scandal which could have been avoided if they had kept their heads and allowed the artist to finish his work; a scandal that will inevitably harm a cause which several members of the Rockefeller family have generously supported--that of American art. Fear is contagious. American mural painting is just beginning to emerge from the bathos that the timidity of art commissions and owners of buildings has imposed upon it. It cannot become truly significant without the aid of these people. There is danger that the scandal may frighten them back into the "safe" insipidity which has made most American mural painting a disgrace to American civilization. We cannot see that anything Mr. Rivera has said alters his moral right to complete his work. A finished painting can be covered quite as easily as an unfinished one. But why cover it? The painter's own widely published statements have pretty well canceled its propagandist value. Its artistic value remains, and that is of tremendous importance to American art. It should be placed on public view. If the Rockefellers are still afraid of being identified with its revolutionary implications, they might adopt the policy of the editorial disclaimer. Their walls are their own, of course. They can stretch several dozen square yards of conventional bathos over Rivera's splendid fresco, and perpetuate the scandal their action has precipitated. But they could also exhibit the picture, with an appended statement that nothing in it is to be taken as expressing the sentiments of the Rockefeller family. Why not? THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY May 24, 1933 Rivera, Too Communist And Too Mexican Many a hungry American artist read with watering mouth the story of Mr. Rockefeller's paying off Diego Rivera in full ($21,000) and telling him that he need not bother to complete the murals which he had been engaged to paint for Radio City. Of course an artist does not relish being told to stop, even if he is paid for the work that he does not do, but Mr. Rivera can be comforted by the assurance that the act was not intended to cast any discredit upon his skill as a painter. It was rather a confession by Mr. Rockefeller that he had picked the wrong man for the job. It is perfectly true that he had, and it was a mistake that did not need to be made. Rivera is probably the greatest mural painter in the western world; He is also a Mexican who always paints figures that are Mexicans and he is an ardant communist. Therefore when he painted on the wall of Mr. Rockefeller's Radio City a crowd of Mexicans with the dominating figure of Lenin rising above them and joining the hands of a soldier, a proletarian worker and an agricultural laborer, he was doing nothing that might not have been expected. Only it was not quite appropriate for the environment. Entirely disclaiming any sympathy with a rigid "buy American" policy in the arts, one may still fail to see any justification for getting an artist who is perfectly certain to produce a characteristically Mexican picture to do a job which obviously calls for one that is characteristically North American. Evidently General Motors rather tardily began to feel the same way about it, for after engaging Rivera to paint a mural in their building at Chicago's Century of progress exposition, they canceled the contract. THE NEW YORK TIMES May 28, 1933 A PLEA FOR RIVERA SENT TO ROCKEFELLER Artists and Writers Sign Letter Demanding Painter Be Allowed to Finish Mural Artists and writers have signed a letter sent to John D. Rockefeller Jr., protesting against his dismissal of Diego Rivera, radical Mexican mural painter, from Rockefeller Center. Senor Rivera was painting a mural in the RCA Building which offended members of the Rockefeller family because it included a portrait of Lenin. The letter was forwarded to Mr. Rockefeller by a committee including Walter Pach, John Sloan and Suzanne La Follette, formed to fight the rejection of Senor Rivera's mural. The signers asserted that the murals painted by Senor Rivera in this country have been "of incalculable value as creative inspiration and technical instruction for American artists." The letter also said: "We, the undersigned, are informed that a disinterested committee of artists and writers who desire to discuss with you the questions arising out of Diego Rivera's dismissal before finishing his fresco at Rockefeller Center have not been granted an interview. "The completion of these murals by the artist seems to us of extreme importance for American art of the present and of the future. We wish to affirm that our view of this matter is devoid of any connection with such political, economic or religious considerations as may be thought to be involved. This matter involves the right of all artists to fulfill their contracts". Peggy Bacon, Harry Bakwin, Ruth M. Bakwin, A. S. Baylinson, Maurice Becker, George Biddle, Bruce Bliven, F. A. Blossom, Lou Block, Alexander Brook, Slater Brown, V. F. Calverton Robert, Cantwell Thomas Craven, A. M. Dasburg, Ernestina Evans, Max Eastman, Hugh Ferriss, Lewis Gannett, Ruth Gannett, Mary Halton, Bertham Hartman, Shela Hibben, Earl Horton, B. W. Huebach, Elizabeth Huling, Horace M. Kalls, Morris Kantor, Rockwell Kent, Suzanne La Follette, Daniel Mebane, H. L Mencken, Lewis Mumford, Magda Pach, Walter Pach, Aizira Peirce, Waldo Peirce, Boardman Robinson, Clemens Robinson, G. T. Robinson, Edwina D. Sawyer, John Sloan, George Soule, Niles Spencer, Benjamin Stolberg, A. Walkowitz, Warner Wheelock. THE NATION June 21, 1933 Rivera's Ideas on Art Like many another good artist, Diego Rivera is a bad critic. Nothing that he has said since the unfortunate affair of Rockefeller Center strengthens the strong case of the murals themselves, and now he contributes to the June issue of the Modern Monthly a trivial little outburst unworthy of the seven reproductions of the Rockefeller and Detroit murals which the article was written to accompany. One perceives, it is true, that Mr. Rivera has a genuine if elementary point to make. It is, apparently, that the spirit rather than the subject matter of a painting determines whether or not it is to be considered as "revolutionary art" and, accordingly, he speaks with justifiable scorn of certain academic Russian painters who thought that they had become "proletarian artists" when they did pictures of Lenin instead of the Czar, or scenes from the Revolution in place of scenes from the Crimean War. But instead of actually making this point, Mr. Rivera allows himself to be carried away by a naive enthusiasm, and fancies that he has proved, not that art is more than subject matter or statement, but that "the workers and the peasants are always right". It is a pity that he will probably never read the Leslie Stephen lecture for 1933 which A. E. Housman delivered at Cambridge and which has just been published here. Quite possibly Mr. Rivera is more important as a painter than Mr. Housman is as a poet; certainly no two attitudes could be farther apart than the revolutionary enthusiasm of the one and the urbane, rather dilettante aloofness of the other. But the very fact that Mr. Housman is calm enough to think gives value to his thoughts, and if the two could really understand one another, they would probably find that they agreed upon the cardinal point--which is, as Mr. Housman states it, that what he calls poetry and what Mr. Rivera might call the soul of a painting resides "not in the thing said but in a way of saying it." Quite possibly, also, they would find themselves agreeing that the essential thing about this "way of saying" is that it communicates a feeling rather than a meaning; that instead of transmitting a thought, it transfuses an emotion. Upon one point, to be sure, they would doubtless forever disagree. Mr. Housman would maintain than great art may communicate any one of a number of diverse and even contradictory feelings. Mr. Rivera would probably insist that art cannot be great unless the feeling be somehow connected with that love of humanity in the man which is the soul of his own particular art. But if they were to agree as far as they could, that agreement might clarify a great deal which the proponents of proletarian art have muddled and which, sometimes at last, they know that they have muddled. From his own experience, Mr. Rivera has learned how difficult it is for even so ardently proletarian an artist as himself to remain orthodox in the eyes of the metaphysicians of his own party. He and they might learn why it must always be so, why both would be well advised to accept as sufficient an agreement which extends no farther than a core of feeling common to both. If it is the essence of metaphysics to be precise about intellectual meanings, it is the essence of Mr. Rivera's kind of art to be actually concerned nothing except emotions; and he agrees as precisely as he has any need to agree with each and every one of the five and twenty warring sect concerning the only thing which matters to him as an artist or to them as the recipients of an aesthetic experience--namely, their emotional reaction to the spectacle afforded by the struggling mass of humanity. The great traditional art of the Christian past has no doctrinal unity. Doubtless some of the Byzantine painters were Homoiousian and some Homoousian. Doubtless some of those who labored in the Low Countries believe in free will and some did not. Nobody cares and nobody could tell by looking at the pictures which painters would have regarded which others as heretics for whom burning would be too good. But all were united by a common emotion; all felt in a certain way about the emotional meaning to humanity of a certain pitifully grotesque story of a child born in a manger and destined to take upon himself the sins of the world. Art was concerned with the transfusion from artist to spectator of that emotion, and popular art is always concerned with some such thing. Mr. Rivera will be wise if he attempts nothing else; the proletarians of every complexion will be wise if they do not seek to learn those of his intellectual convictions which could serve only to alienate many of them from a man whose work as an artist can give joy and strength to them all. THE WORKERS AGE June 15,1933-Rivera Supplement THE RADIO CITY MURAL For the last twenty years I have thought that the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat had need of its own artistic expression, especially in the field of the plastic arts, for a work of art can say the most complicated things in the most simple and direct form that will speak clearly to all that have eyes to see. Furthermore, it is highly important to create a class taste, not merely for the advantages it may bring to the worker in his personal life but even more for the clarification of his class position and strengthening of his confidence and determination to struggle. With this aim, my comrades and I painted in Mexico a long series of mural paintings which were useful for the masses of workers and peasants of Mexico. It seemed to many that our work was successful merely because in Mexico there existed a well-developed tradition of popular arts among the masses. Therefore, it became desirable that we test our theories among the workers of the United States who are not influenced by any tradition of peasant art. This motivated my eager acceptance of the opportunity to paint walls here in the United States. The most important and complete of my American paintings is the series of frescoes in Detroit in which I realized as correctly as possible an analysis of the relations of the worker to the means of production and the natural forces and materials involved, creating a beauty appropriate to the proletariat. The real reason why my work in Detroit aroused so much attack was because it was completely and implicitly a product of dialectic materialism and its opponents, tho they had never heard the term, felt instinctively outraged by the nature of the painting. It was for this reason too that the workers reacted in its favor, without any request or explanation on my part, proving thus that proletariat art, is immediately accessible to the proletariat of a country in which such popular arts are not developed and proving further that it is not true that the proletariat has "bad artistic taste," but rather an immediate appreciation of beauty, provided it has contract with its life and expresses its needs. The Case of Rockefeller Center Those who gave me the work at Radio City knew perfectly well my artistic tendencies and my social and political opinions. And the Detroit affair had just served to make very clear the nature of my reaction to the environment of the United States. They did much urging to persuade me to accept the work, which I finally did only on condition that they would give me full liberty to paint as I saw fit. My interpretation of the theme and my sketches for the painting were discussed and approved. The theme they assigned was: Man at the crossroads, looking with uncertainty but with hope to a better world. My interpretation, naturally, portrayed the crossroads with the road to the left as the socialist world, that to the right, the road of capitalism. The steel worker, in the midst of a connected system of machines which give him control of energy and means of knowledge of the various aspects of life, the infinitely great and the infinitely small, and a simultaneous vision of the most distant and the nearest things, and power over the forces of nature and the vegetable products and mineral wealth of the earth. The axis of the composition was determined by the cylinders of a telescope and a microscope, and their two visual fields, crossed like a pair of scissors with a luminous sphere as its central pivot, containing the representation of the atom and the cell, controlled by the hand of the mechanical power between the two arms of the worker which were placed upon electric controls, while his vision was directed forward. At the sides, arranged in horizontal zones like the floors of a building, were, at the left, an image of a May Day demonstration in Moscow, projected by television, and below, the workers of a factory gathered during the lunch hour to listen to a working class leader. At the right, in the upper part, war-an attack of infantry equipment with masks and flame-throwers, and supported by tanks and aeroplanes. And, below that, as a consequence, a demonstration of unemployed workers in Wall Street corner South Street, with the mounted police just in the act of attacking and dispersing the demonstration; in the background, crossed, an elevated structure and the steeple of a church. In the ellipses, representing the microscopic and telescopic, on the side nearest the war, the wounds and the microbes of decomposition and infection and those of the typical plagues and diseases of war. On the lower edge of the ellipse, the microbes of venereal disease, syphilis, etc., and adjoining a sector showing a scene of gaming, drinking and dancing of members of the bourgeoisie, reminiscent of Marx's observation that such a scene was the overflowing scum of capitalist decay. Beneath this, in the astronomic field, was represented the moon, dead planet, and near the center, the sun, in eclipse. In the same field, on the left, constellations and nebulas in ascending evolution. Near this, a group of young women, youth and pioneers of the Communist movement. On that side, in the microscopic field and balancing the sun, focus of vital energy, was represented a cancerous invasion of the human body as the negative element due to a misdirected concentration of vital energy. Next the organs, fluids, functions and microorganisms of the functions of nutrition and generation of life. In the sector between those two things was represented the union of the worker, the peasant and the soldier, with the industrial worker as leader, and in the background, a group of workers with raised fist. Since, as much for my personal sentiments and opinions as for the historical truth, the outstanding leader of the proletariat is Lenin, I could not conceive or represent the figure of the worker-leader as any other than that of Lenin. In the foreground, two enormous lenses placed at the two sides gave the magnified vision of all this to the groups of students of all races. The Controversy After the Rockefellers had repeatedly expressed their enthusiasm for the work as it developed on the wall, the pretext was advanced by Nelson Rockefeller that the head of Lenin was unacceptable, despite the fact that it was in my sketch and on the wall in outline for over a month. While the correspondence on this subject was being exchanged a whole plan of attack was being worked out and, one night, after getting rid of spectators, an incongruously large force of guards and attendants covered the picture while the architects were expressing their objections to me in the construction shack. Their objections were not merely to the face of Lenin but to the whole painting, its color, its ideology and its spirit. At 7:10 I left the scaffold; but a phone call from one of the workers to the New Workers School brought a demonstration down to Rockefeller City on a united front basis by nine the same evening, with improvised banners and mimeographed leaflets, which demonstration was brutally attacked by the police. Since then there has been a growing movement among the workers organizations and among artists, critics, and intellectuals, demanding that we be given the opportunity to complete the work according to our plans and that it be exhibited and reproduced. As the best answer to the financial dictatorship of the Rockefellers my co-workers and I have decided to make the revolutionary painting accessible to the New York workers which the Rockefellers tried to shut off from them. Therefore, we have decided to use the money that the Rockefellers paid to paint without charge in workers schools. Thus the Rockefellers have been stripped of their assumed mask of liberalism as art patrons and yet are paying for revolutionary art in the works headquarters much against their will. At the same time, the whole incident has served to stir the interest of great numbers of workers in the development of proletarian art and the storm aroused demonstrates the living character of the art of the working class as against the art of the bourgeoisie which is no longer capable of stirring controversy. We are confident that the workers will yet unveil our buried mural and, if it be destroyed or incomplete, they will create out of their own midst the artists of tomorrow who will fulful our intentions and carry revolutionary art to far greater heights. Art and the Worker (The following paragraphs are taken from Diego Rivera's lecture at the New Workers School, reprinted in the June 1933 issue of the "Modern Monthly"-Editor) It is true that in Mexico I painted mainly peasants, because Mexico is primarily a peasant land, but as for myself, I was born in a mine. I was born an industrial worker. My paintings aroused in Detroit a sympathy and an antipathy such as none of them had ever done in Mexico. As never before I evoked the attack of the conservative and religious elements, and as never before I stirred up a reaction in my defense on the part of the great mass of workers and those intellectuals appreciative of mass art. Therefore I have come to the definite conclusion that it is not true that the taste in art of the American working man is formed and trained by the colored comic strips in the Sunday papers. If painters insist upon presenting to them pictures which do not interest them, naturally they will not be attracted, but if they do as I have done, even if their painting be bad, as mine may be bad, if they paint things which concern the worker they will get an immediate response-the response I got when my paintings were under attack thru the formation of a united front of some twelve thousand workers in Detroit who adopted a resolution and sent it to the Mayor of the City of Detroit, declaring that if an attempt was made to destroy my work the workers would defend it by whatever means necessary. This result of my experiment is interesting above all for American painters, because the experience is enough in any case to destroy altogether the idea of the distance which separates the painter from the worker. That idea is false. If the painter succeeds in painting art for the proletariat, the proletariat will understand it. More, the proletarian will defend his art, proletarian art, with the same energy with which he will defend any other thing which he finds necessary for the nourishment and the needs of his class. The role of the artist in the revolution is not that of the fellow traveler; it is not that of the sympathizer; it is not that of a servant of the revolution-the role of the artist is that of the soldier of the revolution. It has been said that the revolution has no need of art, but that art has need of the revolution. That is not true. The revolution does have need of revolutionary art. Art is not for the revolutionist what it is for the romanticist. It is not a stimulant or excitant. It is not a liquor on which you get drunk. It is nourishment to strengthen the nervous system. It supplies strength for the struggle. It is as much a nourishment as is wheat. The sensibility of the revolutionary painter reflect the external world. Cezanne, for example, bourgeois revolutionary painter who sympathized with the Commune in spite of his being Catholic, translated with a tonality typically his own all that he saw, so that even if he painted a loaf of bread there was in it a reflection of the character of the revolutionary artist. Another painter, on the other hand, might actually choose as his theme a policeman clubbing a worker and yet fail to create revolutionary art, as has too often proved to be the case. "I Paint What I See" (From the New Yorker, May 20, 1933) What do you paint when you paint on a wall? Said John D's grandson, Nelson. Do you paint just anything at all? Will there be any doves, or a tree in fall? Or a hunting scene, like an English ball? "I paint what I see," said Rivera. What are the colors you use when you paint? Said John D's grandson, Nelson. Do you use any red in the heart of a saint? If you do, is it terribly red, or faint? Do you use any blue? Is it Prussian? "I paint what I paint," said Rivera. Whose is that head that I see in my wall? Said John D's grandson Nelson. Is it anyone's head whom we know, at all? If you do, is it terribly red or faint? A Rensselaer, or a Saltonstall? Is it Franklin D? Is it Mordaunt Hall? Or is it the head of a Russian? "I paint what I think," said Rivera. I paint what I paint, I paint what I see, I paint what I think, said Rivera And the thing that is dearest in life to me In a bourgeois hall is Integry; However… I'll take out a couple of people drinkin' And put in a picture of Abraham Lincoln; I could even give you McCormick's reaper And still not make my art much cheaper But the head of Lenin has got to stay! It's no good tasted in a man like me, Said John D's grandson, Nelson. To question an artist's integrity Or mention a practical thing like a fee, But I know what I like to a large degree, Tho art I hate to hamper. For twenty-one thousand conservative bucks You painted a radical. I say, shucks, I could never rent the offices- The capitalistic offices. For this, as you know, is a public hall. And people want doves, or a tree in fall, And tho your art I dislike to hamper, I owe a little to God and Gramper. And after all, It's my wall… We'll see if it is, said Rivera. E.B. White A SHAMELESS FRAUD 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. THE WASHINGTON POST July 17, 1933 LENIN WINS PLACE IN MURAL Mexican Artist Will Include Communist Leader Alongside Jefferson, Adams and Debs; Washington Left Out of Picture. New York, July 16 (A.P.) .-Diego Rivera is going to paint the figure of Lenin in a New York mural after all. The Mexican artist, ousted from Rockefeller Center for including the Russian revolutionist in a huge wall painting, began work today on a mural for the New Workers School, telling the story of the revolutionary tradition in America. "I am working for the first time in a headquarters controlled by the Workers and dedicated to the revolutionary movement," said Rivera, who was attired in a red shirt and artist's smock. "The painting will reveal the class conflicts in the very foundations of the country's economic structure, which, growing with its development, caused the attempt to complete the bourgeois revolution during the Civil War and make necessary the proletarian revolution today." This time Rivera will put a red flag on each side of Lenin's head. One banner will bear the hammer and sickle of Communism, and the other will show the pine tree and snake of the "don't tread on me" period of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams will be pictured side by side with Eugene V. Debs and William Haywood, but not even a corner of George Washington's peaked hat will show. "I do not consider Washington as a central revolution figure," said the artist, "even though I recognize his significance as a leader of the American war for independence." The signing of the Declaration of Independence, enslaving of the Negroes, and the hanging of Nathan Hale will be other scenes in the mural. By way of contrast, Rivera said, John D. Rockefeller and other leading financiers, will be included. THE ART DIGEST August 1, 1933 Rivera's Newest Diego Rivera, fresh from his "knock-out" at the hands of the Rockefeller family, has once more broken into public print with the announcement that he has started work on a new series of murals in the loft assembly room of the New Workers' School, 51 West 14th Street, New York, where he will depict the history of the revolutionary idea in America. Working this time in a sympathetic environment, Rivera will meet with none of the "capitalist" opposition which greeted his introduction of a portrait of Lenin into the composition of his frescoes at Rockefeller Center and resulted in the forced cessation of his work there and the cancellation of an additional commission from the General Motors Corporation. He will work without pay, the paintings being his gift to the workers's cause. In his newest pageant of social history Rivera will portray such characters as Thomas Jefferson, Eugene Debs, Thomas Payne, J. P. Morgan and Daniel Shay, leader of the socalled "Shay's Rebellion". Lenin will be represented unopposed, looking down from the same wall with the likeness of John D. Rockefeller. George Washington, because the artist does not consider him "a central revolutionary figure" will not be present. The painting will consist of 21 panels, eight on each of the side walls of the room, and four small and one large panel on the end walls. As in the ill-fated Rockefeller Center project the whole work will be done in true fresco. Rivera plans to begin his sequence with the earliest class conflicts at the very beginning of the country's economic history. The first panel will show the conquest of the Indians by the Colonists. Following this will be represented the struggle for supremacy among the different nationalities, war with Mexico, gold in California, the Civil War and finally the period of industrial conflict. Concerning the omission of Washington, Rivera is quoted in the New York Herald Tribune: "His understanding of the American Revolution was limited and therefore he played a thoroughly conservative and even reactionary role in the social changes arising out of the Revolution and construction of a new government". Rivera has promised to do another series of paintings for the International Workers' School, 7 East 15th Street, where he will depict "the importance of Trotsky as a leader and the part played by the Communist opposition in the work of the masses". THE NEW REPUBLIC August 16, 1933 CORRESPONDENCE Rivera's Mexican Murals SIR: In an article called "Detroit Paradoxes" published in The New Republic of July 12, 1 made the following statement: "In February, 1932, the Communist literary magazine, The New Masses, published a scathing expose of the career of Diego Rivera... Here it was shown... that his point of view, as expressed in his art, had... unmistakably changed from Communist to bourgeois-chauvinistic--as evidenced by his substitution, in the arms of a gigantic Mexico in one of his murals, of specimens . of the national fruit for the figures of a worker and a peasant which had originally been contemplated... The paper of the expelled Communist faction led by Jay Lovestone was afterwards able to show, by publishing a photograph of the mural in Mexico City, that, instead of a woman with mangoes and grapes, it had for its summit and climax a worker pointing the way to a Communist future". Mr. Joseph Freeman, the author of the article in The New Masses, has written me as follows: "My article about Diego Rivera in The New Masses of February, 1932, to which you referred in The New Republic of July 12, was not a 'scathing expose', but an attempt to explain the course of Rivera's development as painter and politician. Most of my article was written in Mexico City in 1929 as straight reporting for a news agency whose correspondent I was in that time. It was published in The New Masses after the John Reed Club episode and before Rivera had entered on his present period; that is, it covered an interim between two periods of the painter's participation in revolutionary politics. My article was written without consulting anyone in the Communist party. Whatever faults it may have, it was a genuine attempt--the first of its kind in this country that I know of--to study the relations of an artist to the revolutionary movement. It was written before the leftward swing of the intelligentsia had such Marxist critics as we now have, was intended to clarify certain problems affecting the so-called fellow travelers. "I do now know whether the photographs published by the Lovestone paper were selected as a deliberate trick or as the result of an honest mistake. They are, of course, genuine photographs. But they do not dral with the particular fact in question. "Here is the fact: Early in 1929 Rivera sketched on the central panel, of the National Palace the figure of a woman holding a peasant and worker. Late in the summer of that year, he changed the sketch so that the woman held various fruits in her arms. The second sketch remained on the wall for several years. Subsequently--sometime in 1981, I believe--it was changed completely to the present mural." My article dealt specifically with the summer of 1929, and it is a fact that in that period Rivera made the change I described. Perhaps the change was not important; it is possible to differ in all sincerity as to its significance. But that such a change was made is a fact. "My article would have added a description of the final version of the mural had I known that such a version was made; but when I prepared the article for publication I did not know that another change had been made. No material on the subject was available in New York, and the press did not report the change. Mexican Folkways for January-March, which carried photographs of the final mural, did not reach me until long after my ar tick appeared. The last I had seen of the design it was as described in my article. But what is more pertinent, at the period dealt with in my article the woman with the fruit was on the wall". New York City. EDMUND WILSON THE ART DIGEST September 1, 1933 Rivera Libre Diego Rivera is happy. The reason is a letter from the faculty and student body of the medical school of the University of Mexico commissioning him to paint a series of murals on the history of medicine. The Mexican muralist, who last spring defied "the powers" by painting a portrait of Lenin on the walls of Rockefeller Center's RCA Building and thereby causing a tempest that even now emits an occasional zephyr, is guaranteed absolute freedom to paint anything he likes, atheism and communism included. A New York Herald Tribune reporter interviewed Rivera at the New Workers' School, where he is doing free of charge a set of murals depicting the growth of the revolutionary idea in America. The artist jubilant, sketched verbally the decorations he had planned for the ancient building, in which once sat the directors of the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico. He would paint the contrast of the development of the science of medicine to the "myths and miracles" of religion. He would paint scenes of the great moments in the history of religion--the Creation, the Flood, the Immaculate Conception, the Transfiguration--and beside them he would paint medical scientists at work "proving that such could not have been or be" "They have guaranteed me freedom", he cried. "I shall do the triumph of science over superstition. I shall do it according to my own revolutionary viewpoint and it shall be antireligious. Today I am very, very enthusiastic. I shall show the human mind. The way of reason". Rivera expects to finish his panels for the New Workers' School in about two months. Then he will leave for Mexico City. THE NEW YORK TIMES September 15, 1933 RCA BUILDING BARS JESUS FROM MURAL Brangwyn, British Artist, Now Finds Difficulty in Fiishing Sermon on Mount Work OFFICIALS SUGGEST A LIGHT John R. Todd Explains a Figure Would Not Meet All Persons' Conceptions of Christ DITCHLING, England, Sept. 14 (A.P.)--Frank Brangwyn, world-famous artist, who is doing a set of four huge murals for Rockefeller Center in New York, has encountered what he characterizes as the greatest puzzle of his artistic career. The work is virtually completed except for the fourth and final panel. This is to depict the Sermon on the Mount, and Mr. Brangwyn has been asked to leave Jesus out of the picture. "I can't conceive of the Sermon on the Mount without the Saviour," the artist said. "I'm up against a stone wall and I don't know what to do." The pictures are supposed to be completed for delivery in New York in the near future. Restriction on Mural Explained Officials of Rockefeller Center confirmed yesterday the report that Frank Brangwyn, English artist, had been asked to omit the figure of Jesus from his representation of the Sermon on the Mount, which is to be one of his four murals in the RCA Building. They denied, however, that there had been any controversy about it, characterized the whole affair as a tempest in a teapot and appeared to be more amused than concerned. John R. Todd, president of the companies which constructed and are managing Rockefeller Center, who is one of the men who negotiated directly with Mr. Brangwyn, said that after Mr. Brangwyn's suggestion of the Sermon on the Mount as a subject for one of his murals the question arose among officials and advisers as to how Jesus should be represented. "Doubt was expressed as to whether any artist should attempt the practically impossible task of painting a figure which would satisfy the conceptions of Christ," said Mr. Todd. "Finally we decided that it would be better to have Christ represented by a light shining down from Heaven and bathing the Mount. The onlt question was how Christ could be most reverently represented. "This suggestion of a shining light was communicated to Mr. Brangwyn several months ago. He concurred in it and informed us that he would proceed along that line. We have heard no word from him since and so far as we know he is painting it that way." Raymond M. Hood, one of the chief architects of Rockefeller Center, who visited Mr. Brangwyn in England last Winter and discussed his designs with him, said that suggestions had gone back and forth between Mr. Brangwyn and Rockefeller Center officials, as is always the case when an artist is executing a commission for anyone. These were suggestions, not orders, he said. One suggestion was for the ommission of the figure of Jesus. "Some people here felt that it would not be fitting to put the figure of Christ in a business building," Mr. Hood explained. "They thought that might be too strong a representation of an individual religion. But I am sure there has been no controversy about it." THE NEW REPUBLIC September 27, 1933 CORRESPONDENCE Rivera's Mexican Murals Sir: Since both Edmund Wilson (The New Republic, July 21) and Joseph Freeman (in your issue of August 16) have made reference to my painting in the National Palace in Mexico, will you permit me to make clear the facts in the matter? 1.--Mr. Wilson's statement of the facts in his article Detroit Paradoxes" was correct; Freeman's letter mistakes the facts. 2.-Mr. Freeman's original article in The New Masses pretended to show a degeneration of my art as son as I was expelled from the communist party and to do that Mr. Freeman falsified such facts and invented others out of whole cloth. One of those which was invented out of whole cloth was this statement: 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-peasant no doubt is a painful sight to the government officials who pass the mural every day, were substituted harmless natural objects such as grapes and mangoes. This strange invention of Freeman's was refuted by the "The Workers Age" of June 15, 1933, by the simple procedure of publishing the original sketch and the final painting. The original sketch shows a woman sheltering worker and peasant. I considered the figure politically false, because Mexico is not yet a nourishing mother to the workers and peasants, and removed it as the "Workers' Age" photo shows, and replaced it not by "grapes and mangoes" but by the figure of a worker showing the martyrs of the agrarian revolution the road to industrial communism. I put that correction on the wall in sketch form as early as 1929. 3.-Joseph Freeman pleads ignorance of the final painting when he wrote his article and has now invented a second alteration. There was no second alteration--nor can Freeman plead ignorance when he wrote his recent letter to The New Republic, for two good reasons. First, because both the sketch and the final painting as printed in The Workers' Age show the grapes referred to, and in both cases connected with Hidalgo, who violated the Spanish prohibition against cultivation of grapes in Mexico and taught the indians to cultivate the forbidden fruits--an act of defiance analogous to the Boston Tea Party or the Gandhi making his salt expedition. Freeman had only to look at the Workers' Age of June 15, 1933, which he had in his possession when he wrote to you--he had only to use his eyes and he could have seen the impossibility of inventing his latest fiction. One who cannot see grapes in both sketch and painting wither will not see or ought to refrain from writing on works of art. Second, after The Workers' Age had exposed Freeman's invention as such, he wrote to many people in Mexico, seeking some sort of "explanation" and hipotetically assuring those who he thought might "suspect" his motive that he was using those data "for a serious and detailed scientific study of the frescoes and their social role." Among the answers Freeman received, was one from the editor of "Mexican Folkways," Francis Toor, wha was in Mexico throughout the period of my painting in the National Palace. When Freeman wrote his letter to you, he was already in possession of Mrs. Toor's letter of July 31, 1933, which reads in part: "I give you my word of honour I do not remember the change in the drawing you speak of, and my word of honour means something to me and to other people, since I received your letter, two days ago, and they don't remember it either." But Freeman hastened to print his new invention. Perhaps too much in a hurry to wait for Mrs. Toor's further investigation. She did what Freeman might have done; she asked the painter himself. Also my assistant who worked with me on the job on the 4th of August she wrote to Freeman the following letter: "August 4, 1931 My dear Joe: I have some further information for you regarding the Palace Fresco. I met Paul O'Higgins yesterday and he told me that there was no change in the project after it was first traced on the wall until the final painting and that the only fruit that ever appeared there, was the grapes under Hidalgo's feet, under the central figure. Ramon Alva de Guadarrama, Diego's assistant throughout the work of the Palace Frescos says the same. I could not quite make out from your statements as to whether or not you yourself saw the change, or as to whether you based your statement on information given to you by others. Now, I see that it cannot be the former and that whoever gave you the information and signed statement for you, lied. It is really too bad taht you weren't more careful. Sincerely, Paca (Nickname for Francis)" I can only say in closing that when a writer who valves his reputation for veracity sets up to destroy the character of a painter who is doing, has been doing and will continue to do his best to paint revolutionary murals, and fot factional purposes, that writer invents slanders and falsehoods, he should at least see to it that they are such as cannot be refuted by a mere photostatic reproduction. When slanders are in words only, they are harder to refute. But when they concern things that can be photographed and reproduced, then I can only agree with Mrs. Toor when she says to Freeman, "it is really too bad that you were not more careful." Diego Rivera (Mr. Freeman was shown Senor Rivera's letter before publication, but owing to the fact that he is at present in California, will be unable to answer it until he can consult various letter which are in New York City. The Editors) HARPER'S MAGAZINE VOL. 167 September, 1933 Rockefeller, Rivera, And Art By WALTER PACH An old fight is on again; this time it has broken out in Radio City, New York. To read the newspapers one might think it was between Rockefeller and Lenin, but it goes much deeper than that. It is between art and the counterfeit of art. The conflict between the two affects the lives of all of us more than do the economic or political systems attached to the names of the great capitalist and the great Communist. The present discussion turns upon a fresco by Diego Rivera in Rockefeller Center. When the Mexican painter began to accept commissions from rich Americans protests went up from the Communists, which confirms me in doubts as to their intelligence. The artist had already expressed in his distinguished paintings, as no other in recent times has done, the life and aspirations of the workers, manual and intellectual; but on a suspicion that he had "sold out" to capitalistic patrons the Communists repudiated him. Now that they are confronted by a thing so blatantlv within their philosophy as a picture of Lenin on the walls of a capitalist's building, they begin to see Rivera as more useful to their cause--less purely "aesthetic" than they thought. What neither the critics of the fresco nor its Communistic defenders realize is that the significance of this vast work does not hinge on a particular detail. It resides in the artist's whole attitude toward life, life's purposes and the means of fulfilling them. And from this standpoint it may well turn out that Rockefeller and Lenin stand much closer together than people think. Both believe in eliminating waste through the concentration of effort. Both look toward a future in which mankind will benefit by unity of purpose instead of suffering the discord and confusion inevitable in the long past when races, countries, and even neighboring cities stood apart in mutual hostility, and spent incalculable time and strength on activities that were futile if not actually destructive. Rockefeller and Lenin are culminations, perhaps even definitive ones, of man's collective purpose to base his lie on more reasonable conditions. Which system is to be in control of these conditions? I am sure I do not know. With diversity of opinion on every hand, I think it extremely probable that we have still got to go through a lot of experimenting, that we must arrive at modifications of both schemes before even the wisest of us can discern the controls for the unimaginable machine of the future world. But while professing ignorance about the system to evolve for the America of the future and for the rest of the world, I do not see how the fiercest opponent of Lenin can deny that his ideas have their place in a great mural painting when the artist undertakes to depict "Man, at the Crossroads, Looks toward his Future". Rivera, the Mexican who has done so much in renewing the ancient art of fresco, was charged with this impressive work. He made of it a splendid and dynamic exposition of the forces, scientific, mechanistic, and social, at work in American life today. It could not to his mind fail to include a statement about Communism. The need grew more specific as his picture developed, and instead of the abstract figure of a leader which he had sketched at an earlier stage of his planning he introduced a portrait of Lenin. It is unmistakable and important, but remains a small detail in the vast scheme, by no means a dominant one. Mr. Nelson A. Rockefeller wrote, asking the substitution of some other feature, one which should not offend the feelings of the people (they would unquestionably be a great number) who would resent the portrait of the Russian the great building. It is on American soil, not that of Mexico or of Russia, and everyone will agree that it is our ideas that should be told of there. But at once the question arises--who knows those ideas in their fullness and their depth? One chief value of art in all countries has been its making dear--first to the people immediately concerned and then to distant ones--the thoughts of the given time and place. Quite often it is the distant audience that first realizes how the artist has told the truth. And then the frescoes of Giotto are rescued from the whitewash with which they had been covered; the pictures of Rembrandt, Ruisdael, and Vermeer, most of which are in collections outside of Holland, recall the glorious period of that country. Today we see Japanese collectors in London, Paris, and New York paying high prices for Japanese prints to take them back in triumph--prints which as mere sheets of paper had served as padding for cases of merchandise from the Orient. And one remembers how much the French translations of Edgar Allan Poe by Baudelaire and Mallarme had to do with our recognition of the poet's importance, how much the word of English critics counted in our acceptance of Walt Whitman. Sometimes in their desire to produce art, artists try to say again the things which the past has said. If they are men of strong will and ideas they use the old forms in a way that makes of them a new creation, a new magic, as during the Renaissance. In other cases--as instanced by much of the art of our own period--the attempt to use the old forms results in the dull thing called the academic. It can be taught in schools and so is easily understood-save for the one essential point that the magic has departed. Even this becomes apparent as soon as these modem attempts have lost their first novelty; but as the word magic has gone out of use, people say that such work is oldfashioned, or highbrow, or anything else that relieves them of having to understand it. Have you ever heard St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City referred to as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, or even as a worthy piece of architecture? A standard only a little more severe than the average would deny that it is architecture at all. It is a vain effort to repeat the art of an age that worked had ended before, America was discovered; this building is as much of our time as the star-spangled banner, carved in stone over its door. The credit or discredit for it belongs to those Americans who thought that they could continue the Gothic miracle by copying its forms; and so we might call their style the Pseudo-Gothic. But we have made progress in artistic understanding, as one observes by looking across the street from St. Patrick's. Rockefeller Center might have tried to imitate the building of some bygone time--and achieved such ineptitudes as those at New Haven described by William Harlan Hale as "Yale's Cathedral Orgy". The final touch of the architect in these was a telephone booth resembling a confessional. But, at the risk of forfeiting all the beauty of the past, the builders of Radio City started out to create some magic of their own. An area that will house the activities of more than twenty thousand people, and that will be visited by twice that number daily, is being developed by a corps of men obedient to the drive of their epoch toward expansion and order. The isolated skyscrapers we formerly built express the first of these impulses, but only an intelligent coordination of forces could give rise to this composition of buildings and start a movement for order in the chaos of the modern city. As one of the architects tells me, no one can foresee what result the future will witness in the great effort, for one model of the group is supplanted by another, as unpredictable conditions bring about changes in the vast ensemble. It cannot be judged today, for in the most literal sense of the words it does not yet exist. Great spaces are still empty, and recent weeks have seen opinions change in an amazing way through the mere removal of a fence--the wooden barrier which prevented one's seeing the immense central shaft in its relation to the two low buildings on Fifth Avenue. At once there appeared a logic of proportion which was absent when the great obelisk was seen alone, causing one observer to turn its name into "Radiossity- -to rhyme with monstrosity and atrocity". As more edifices arise, the whole aspect of the place will continue to change, according, to the architectural and philosophic control over the elements of the work. Each of the many men who guide it will admit that he has progressively modified his plans in response to the needs of the complex scheme. It must take account of such forces as science, engineering, labor, commerce, finance, and public opinion as it expresses itself on the output of the radio and of television which will broadcast to distant places the sounds and sights of the theaters in the enterprise. Again, a war might cause changes, for Rockefeller Center being a kind of free port for the country, where bonded goods may be sent from abroad, some of the buildings are those of foreign governments, and the fall of one of them might carry with it results in our relationship with new rulers. And so an important element in the scheme is that great unknown we call the future. But that is the thing America is always trying to peer into. Small wonder if we make mistakes--and if we are so undismayed in admit ting them. We are not to be judged by partial results, but only when th whole of our achievement is viewed in perspective. At present no one can see more than details or fractions of details. It took time to build the great cities of the past, it took centuries for the Gothic cathedral to evolve; we Americans have a right to more time in working out our new forms. Rights are earned by people, not just dropped down on them out of nowhere. We base the right of American art on its unbroken tradition of success covering thousands of years. The coming of the white man marked a great chapter in that history, but it is only a chapter. Long ago the soil of this continent brought forth architecture, sculpture, and painting that must be rated with the most important art produced in the Old World. And that art of the Mayas and the Aztecs stretches in space across the whole of America, with magnificent examples of it in the United States. It continues in time, also, as our present-day Indians of the Southwest go on with painting, ceramics, weaving, no whit inferior to those of their ancestors. But the main line of continuance between pre-Columbian America and that of our time is found in Mexico. It was Aztec workmen who built the splendid colonial churches in the land to the south of us, and their art is clearly seen also in the decorations. While Spain was naturally the country to which the earlier Mexicans turned for instruction as a rule, certain frescoes indicate beyond dispute that the walls of Italy were also consulted; and the fact may be partially explained by the use of a similar process of painting in the buildings of the time before Cortez. In a thousand ways the present art of the Mexican republic carries on the ancient traditions, and notable instances are the great murals executed by Rivera, Orozco, and others in public buildings of the capital, at Cuernavaca, Orizaba, and elsewhere. These murals have been admired by thousands of visitors from our side of the Rio Grande, and now that our architecture has reached a point where we can think of other problems than those of pure construction, it was natural that we should address ourselves to a Mexican for a fresco. He is a master of the medium, and he is American in the broader sense of the word that denotes all the people and lands west of the Atlantic. Such was the genesis of the decorations painted by Rivera in San Francisco, the admirable ones he did in Detroit, and the fresco at Rockefeller Center. Work on this last is halted, at present writing. No one knows what its fate will be. The request from the authorities of the building for the suppression of the Lenin head was met by a refusal on the part of the artist; he was handed a check for the sum agreed on for the whole work and dismissed. A committee of American artists, writers, and scientists (the last named as representatives of a field which has benefited from the funds created for research by the Rockefellers) has protested against the action at Radio City, and discussions are engaged in in as to what can be done. The committee is in the position of sympathizing with both sides. Appreciating the public-spirited work of the Rockefellers at the Metropolitan Museum, the Modern Museum, and many other places, they realize the difficulties of the present undertaking and are eager for its success. But they also sympathize with the artist, whose rights they believe to have been transgressed. No man of interest in any field works solely for his hire, and in art especially the chief reward is always the satisfaction of work well done. This is denied to Rivera by the interruption of his painting, and if it be argued that he forfeited his right to complete the fresco by introducing into it features not clearly agreed on by his employers, then a judgment of that claim must be sought. No conception of such vast scope as Rivera's can be anticipated in its every detail; it grows as it develops -more even than does the group of buildings called Radio City. Had the contract been for a given number of square yards of housepainting, it would have fallen into one category of transactions--with a corresponding rate of payment. But a work of art was asked for, at a price based on creative ability and not merely physical effort, and that demands another point of view. Rivera's fresco has to be considered as a whole, as a book has to be judged as a whole. To take certain passages out of the Bible, Shakespeare, or other classics is to convict them of obscenity. To publish a single detail of the present work, the portrait of Lenin, was to give the idea that the painter is no more than a propagandist for Communism. Accordingly the first result of the newspaper notoriety, as stated by the General Motors Corporation, was the cancelling of its order for a decoration art the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. But Rivera's work has an interest far transcending its possible role as propaganda (the Communists, by the way, object to his advertising of capitalistic enterprises in his frescoes). Its prime interest is as art, and that justifies an intervention not only by other workers along intellectual lines, not only by educators concerned about their own freedom of expression, but by representatives of the public as a whole; for it is the ultimate beneficiary from the development of American art and thought. Therefore, the fate of this fresco is a matter affecting the ideas and so, to some extent, the future of every one of us. Two courses altogether seem possible: either to have the artist complete the work or else to destroy it. Keeping it under a screen can be but a temporary expedient. Since no decision will be made in haste, a thorough examination of the case is possible. At the outset I said that the opposing forces were those of true and false art. In view of the political aspect given to the matter, first by the objection to the Lenin figure and then by the Communist demonstrations in favor of it, this contention may seem difficult to sustain. But observe the following matters. Even before the work at Rockefeller Center was begun, opposition by artists to Rivera's painting had appeared. In Detroit certain people, imagining that a hospital scene por traying the vaccination of a child was a covert burlesque of classic representations of the Holy Family, demanded the destruction of the fresco. The silly charge, backed by references to Rivera's Communistic affiliations, was passed over by the city authorities, and would scarcely be worth mention if it had not led to a declaration by an artist, Mr. Albert Sterner. In a letter to the newspapers Mr. Sterner said, "The proposed obliteration of the Detroit decorations is after all a matter of opinion". So it was, and his own was indicated clearly enough when he went on to say that "Mexico and Paris and Berlin can and do insidiously inject these passing and foreign modes into the natural disposition of our expression". The next manifesto by artists, the result of a protest meeting, was less explicitly directed against Rivera's work, but in his comment on it, Mr. Edward Alden Jewell, the critic of the New York Times, acutely pointed out that the painters and sculptors of the socalled National Commision for the Advancement of American Art, who came forward with opposition to the employment of foreign artists immediately after the incident at Rockefeller Center, were attempting to profit by the political objection to the work of the Mexican in that place. Next came the publication by the same "conservative" artists of a "Regret List", an expression of protest against awards to foreign artists of commissions, including the fresco at Dartmouth College now in progress of execution by Jost Clemente Orozco, also a Mexican. It did not refer to the employment of Sert, a Spaniard, or Brangwyn, an Englishman, in Radio City, perhaps because of a special feeling for the directors of that enterprise, or because the art of these two foreign painters was too acceptable to the protestants for them to include it among their "regrets." Mr. John Sloan, at the request of a newspaper, made a rejoinder the group, and since one of its members has subsequently said in print that American art has no more ardent defender than Mr. Sloan, it is of interest to note that painter's comment on the action of the "commission." They have taken a regrettable course for advancing American art in their opposition to the employment of the most purely and truly American artists (excepting our own Indians) that are now at work on this continent. In my opinion American art can not be fostered by antagonizing even foreign art from Europe. I have had my own "Regret List" of American artists for many years. The roster of the National Academy of Design lists a large number of them. The purpose of my "Regret use' has been to call attention to mean and ignorable works and actions by self-seeking and self-styled American artists, for such works and acts have a definite tendency to retard appreciation of native painters and sculptors, and to bring their work into general contempt. The use of the "Regret List" method against Dartmouth is, in my opinion, an action bringing justified contempt and ridicule on American art. The proposition to have art commissions award by competition is merely throwing the result into the arena of art politics--a practice that has had such miserable results in the past. The artists of the United States, who have usually gone to Europe for their training, should not lose the opportunity for study that the masterly work of Rivera, and the powerful designs of Orozco, and other Mexican painters afford us. We who work in a money-seeking, over-industrialized environment must eagerly draw on the artistic wealth of these Americans from below the Rio Grande. Having Mr. Sloan's reply to that arraignment of Mexican art as foreign which Mr. Sterner made, I may return for a moment to his disquietude about the "insidious" influence of Paris. It was not feared by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Paul Jones, when they sat to Houdon in Paris, nor yet by George Washington when the French sculptor made that portrait of him which millions of children have seen in our public schools--without loss of their national character. The influence of Paris, the city of Delacroix and Barye, Renoir and Cezanne, among others, was not feared when the beautiful decorations in the Boston Public Library were commissioned rom Puvis de Chavannes. He was the greatest mural painter of his time, as Houdon was the greatest sculptor of his time, and no other considerations entered in. It was wisdom on the part of the Americans of other days which made them turn a deaf ear to such considerations. Were one asked to defend their course, one might point to the decisive role which French art played in forming that of men so alien in blood as Jongkind and van Gogh, the only Hollanders of genius in the 19th century, as again Paris has been decisive in revealing to the one great Spaniard of our time, to Picasso--and to the world--the essential quality of his extraordinary art. As important as purely American elements are to us, it is to Paris we must still look for the focus of the live movement of our time. The examples of the two great Dutchmen, of Picasso, and of the great Roumanian sculptor Brancusi all prove that Paris is to our period what Rome was to the time of Poussin and Claude Lorraine. It did not denature or even denationalize their painting. On the contrary it gave them the means of becoming the two incomparable French artists of their century; they have been the backbone of their country's art ever since. Such reasons do not count, however, with people like those of the "National Commission" which publishes the Regret List of foreign artists here, like the objectors to the Radio City fresco who put the blame on Lenin, and like Mr. Sterner when he maintains that he is not concerned with the art of the matter. He writes, "The question of Rivera's excellence as an artist is not here the point. Rivera's language is essentially Mexican". But whether red herrings of Communism or of nationalism are drawn across the trail, it always leads us back to the matter of art, and that will be, as always in these questions, the deciding factor. If our people do not like Rivera and Orozco as artists they will reject them, just as a man at the Custom House recently forbade the importation into this country of reproductions after Michael Angelo. Had the vigilant officer admired the works in question, he would not have declared them obscene, as he did. One of the benefits of the free port of Rockefeller Center will be its immunity from such snooping, which might bring upon us more of that "ridicule and Lest I seem to be on the verge of frivolous language here, let me show by two examples of which I was a witness why I am so sure that opinion on a given work is for or against according as the person judging it sees or does not see its value as art. When the Armory Show of 1913 was at the Chicago Art Institute a campaign was waged against it on the grounds of indecency in its exhibits. (Any stick will do to beat a dog with). Day after day I watched people trying to get up moral indignation over the ."Nude Descending a Staircase". The title had been so promising-but those angles and planes of the cubistic picture simply resisted all attempts to turn them into pornography. Finally one man solved the mystery. "It's a fraud", he declared. "I know dirty pictures when I see them--I've sold plenty. Now, you've got a quarter' out of me, and one from all these other people that you've got to come here through that stuff in the papers. But I'm not stung. I got my quarter's worthdown stairs-from those white figures of women and men. Say, they are great". In his search for the Paris importations he had read about he had found his way to the museum's collection of casts from Greek sculpture. The same "artlessness" explains the action of the girl students at a Western college. They had requested the removal of a plaster reproduction of the Venus de Milo which had been installed in the room where they received the young men who came to call on them. The president of the college refused to suppress the offending image, which he defended as being a work of art. The girls replied that, even if it were, the presence of that naked woman inspired evil thoughts in the minds of their visitors and, still failing of their objective, went on a strike from woman inspired evil thoughts in the minds of their visitors and, still failing of their objective, went on a strike from their studies. At that point in the proceedings I left the town and never learned what the outcome was. I am confident that Rockefeller Center can survive such incitements to Communism and other dangers as are contained in Rivera's fresco if that work is shown to the public. Or, to stick to practical matters like real' estate, I believe that the prestige the buildings will gain through the possession of a great work of art will more than compensate for the loss" of prospective tenants who could' not bear to be under the roof with a portrait of Lenin. I am less confident about the effect on American art and American thinking if this fresco is suppressed. Miss Suzanne La Follette, in the editorial pages of the New Republic, called attention to a serious consequence which seems practically certain to result if the decision goes, against Rivera's work. American mural painting until now, as Miss La Follette says, and has reason to know from the studies which led to her admirable book on our art, has been chiefly bathos-the insipidities of a time that had not yet come to understand the importance of a serious statement on walls that are to be viewed by all men. The easel picture, destined for a more intimate circle, may permit free and personal handling, lightness and spontaneity of touch. But the enduring and grave material of fresco, and the fact that it is addressing itself to masses of people, have given it a tradition of strong and weighty ideas. If we now set the example of effacing or even concealing work because we do not quite agree (or even because we quite disagree) with what the artist has to say, we throw American painters back to the mumbled triteness that offends nobody and inspires nobody. As Miss La Follette continues, that is not what the Rockefellers have led us to think of as their ideal for American art, any more--one might add-than we had thought of them as people willing to rest content with their legal right to obliterate the great fresco. There is no law against destroying works of art, not even the works of the masters, when you legally own them, nor-what may be more important than Old Masters--the work of the men who count today. The essential question before us is not one of law any more than of politics. It is one of art or the counterfeit of art, as I said at the outset. A group of men in Rivera's profession has attacked his work, another such group has defended it. Art must be defined in terms of thought quite as much as in terms of line and color. The idea indeed has always been seen as the thing which determines the nature of the form. When Rivera was asked to alter his work he replied that rather than sacrifice its integrity he preferred to see it destroyed. That is the spirit in which we must hope to see American artists work. The counterfeit of art is production lacking in that sense of the integrity of the work which makes a Rivera reject compromise with his idea, whatever the cost of his refusal. The weak emptiness of Ezra Winter's mural in Radio City tells of its failure to find a valid relation. with life and with art. The pompous platitudes of Sert, in the same great group of buildings, have been published and can be judged; assuring us that all is for the best in the best of worlds, they continue the unworthy tradition running from Kenyon Cox and the men before him to the latest producers of commercial art. Whether they do courthouse stuff (figures of justice, Wisdom, etc.) he-man stuff (Far North trappers and Far East pirate-fighters), or whether their specialty is that maid-of-all-work, the bathing girl, with her invitation to buy deodorants, candy, or what not, they inculcate an ideal of life as false as it is cheap, like the "happy ending" of the froth people consume at most of the movies. There is no cheap art as there is no cheap truth. And the artist tells the truth. He is willing to pay a price to tell it, and I believe we are willing to pay a price to know it. It may be thought arrogant for me to assume that I know where truth lies in the present case. But I do not try to be the arbiter. I give certain reasons why I think Rivera should be asked to finish his work and the public to see it. If his art is not true the fact will transpire, and so we need not fear to look at the picture. What we should fear is the mentality described by Milton in the everyoung pages of the Areopagitica: that of the "gallant man" who thought to make the crows stay within the park by shutting its gates. THE NEW YORK TIMES February 13, 1934 RIVERA RCA MURAL IS CUT FROM WALL Rockefeller Center Destroys Lenin Painting at Night and Replasters Space "VANDALISM", SAYS ARTIST Sloan, Urging Boycott, Says He will Never Exhibit There Protest Meeting Called Rockefeller Center canceled its $21,000 investment in a fresco by Diego Rivera by destroying the offending mural over the week-end. Yesterday, when the news became known, protest meetings were called and John Sloan, president of the Society of Independent Artists, urged an artists' boycott of Rockefeller Center and announced that he would never exhibit there. "I cannot believe that either Mr. or Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. was consulted about this deplorable act", Mr. Sloan said last night. I think the matter must have got out of their hands. I don't mean to attack either of them personally when I call this destruction an outrage. It is a terrible loss for the art of today and the future. "If this vandalism had been committed last May immediately after Rivera was dismissed from Rockefeller Center, it might have been condemned as 'art slaughter'. My verdict now is that it is premeditated 'art murder' ". The society of Independent Artists is now negotiating for space in the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center in which to hold its annual exhibition. As head of this organization, Mr. Sloan said that he would protest against its showing in Rockefeller Center. If the exhibition is held there,, he added, he would decline to submit his work. Another large show, to be called the Municipal Art Exhibition and to include some 1,200 examples of painting, sculpture and prints by artists associated with New York, is scheduled to be held in the RCA Building within a few weeks. Maurice Becker, an artist, of 434 Lafayette Street, said last night that he had been invited to exhibit at the Municipal Art Exhibition but that he would withdraw. He said that H. J. Glintenkamp, another prospective exhibitor, had told him that he would do likewise. Mr. Becker prophesied that many more artists would follow suit when the news of the destruction became generally known. Destroyed At Night When tenants of the RCA Building left their offices on Saturday, the Rivera Mural was concealed under the cream-colored canvas that was put in place shortly after the noted and radical Mexican artist was dismissed last May after having refused to omit a portrait of Lenin and make other changes demanded by the Rockefeller family. Yesterday when the tenants of the new skyscraper returned to their offices, they saw a blank wall where the Rivera painting had been. The concealing canvas had been removed about midnight on Saturday, a corps of men had hacked out the plaster containing what Rivera considered one of his most important paintings, and the resulting blank wall had been replastered. This brief statement was given out by Rockefeller Center: "In answer to inquiries, the following statement was authorized by Rockefeller Center, Inc.: The Rivera mural has been removed from the walls of the RCA Building and the space replastered. The removal involved the destruction of the . mural". This statement was amplified somewhat by a spokesman for Rockefeller Center who explained that some structural changes about to be made in the great hall of the building necessitated the removal of the painting. The extent of the changes he did not know, other than that a new information booth is to be built. He also denied that another artist had been selected to paint a mural to replace the Rivera work and that the wall was being prepared for this purpose. He called absolutely false a report that the destruction of the mural had taken place under the protection of police, and explained that midnight had been chosen for the work so as to cause no inconvenience to tenants. The destruction of the painting surprised the art world because assurance had been given by spokesmen for Rockefeller Center last Spring that the mural would not be damaged. Admirers of Rivera's work called a protest meeting to be held at the New Workers School, 51 West Fourteenth Street, next Saturday night and planned another to be held within a week. The committee in charge of the latter meeting consists of Suzanne La Follette, Mr. Sloan, Walter Pach, Ben Shahn and Bertrand D. Wolfe. Rivera Cables Protest Last night Mr. Wolfe, who is director of the New Workers School and Rivera's New York representative, gave out a statement cabled by Rivera from Mexico City. In it the artist said: "The Rockefellers have destroyed my mural, but they cannot prevent me from speaking through my paintings to the workers of New York and the United States. My work was photographed despite the prohibition of the management of Radio City and will be published in permanent form". "In destroying my paintings the Rockefellers have committed an act of cultural vandalism. There ought to be, these will yet be, a justice that prevents the assassination of human creation as of human character". "The Rockefellers demonstrate that the system they represent is the enemy of human culture, as it is of the further advance of science and the productive powers of mankind". "My case, which is more than personal, I leave in the hands of the American masses. They will yet take over industry and public buildings and guarantee the further development of man's productive and creative powers". The dismissal of Rivera from Rockefeller Center last May created a furor both among his artist sympathizers and radical organizations. Rivera, who is widely regarded as one of the great living mural painters, was an active member of the Communist party and never concealed his radical views. THE WASHINGTON POST February 13, 1934 Rivera's Lenin in Rockefeller Hall Destroyed During Night New York, Feb. 12 (AP)--The mural painting containing a picture of Nicola Lenin, which the Communist artist, Diego Rivera, painted on teh walls of the 70-story Rockefeller Center, has been destroyed, officials of the Center said today. In answer to queries, Rockefeller Center gave out this brief statement: "The Rivera mural has been reomed from the wall of the R.C.A. Building and the space replastered. The removal involved the destruction of the painting." The work, which had aroused a storm of controversy and had been covered with burlap since Rockefeller Center management discovered a likeness of the Bolshevik leader in it, was dug from the wall Saturday night by workmen, under the supervision of officials. Rockefeller Center said Saturday night was chosen "for convenience" because there were few people in the building and then that there was no disorder. They denied a report that polic hasd stood by to guard against demonstrations by sympathizers with Rivera. Early last September, the noted Mexican artist was suddenly halted in his fresco work, told his work was no longer acceptable to the Rockefeller family and given a check for $14,000, completing payment of $21,000 he had been promised for the finished work. THE NEW YORK TIMES February 14, 1934 ARTISTS QUIT SHOW IN RIVERA PROTEST Eleven Refuse to Exhibit at Rockefeller Center After Destruction of Mural URGE TRANSFER OF PLACE Action by LaGuardia Asked--Leader of Academy Decries Complaints as 'Poppycock' 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". THE NEW YORK TIMES February 14, 1934 Removing a Mural Destruction of the Rivera mural at Rockefeller Center will provide fresh fuel for a politico-art controversy that has been going on since the famous Mexican painter was paid in full and asked to discontinue work upon a fresco from which he refused to subtract a prominently placed portrait of LENIN. The uncompleted offending mural was boarded up. Now it has been destroyed, preparatory, so it is stated, to structural changes in the entrance hail of the RCA. Are both sides right and wrong? On the one hand, is a work of art, once lawfully acquired, to be looked upon as a piece of personal property, which may be disposed of as the owner sees fit? On the other hand, does a work of art possess an intangible value not involved in a transfer of ownership? Certainly no unauthorized person would be justified in making alterations in a work of art (a misfortune that befell one of MICHELANGELO'S frescoes in the Vatican). May art be scrapped? Conceivably a definitive answer both legal and artistic to this moot question will one day be given. Meanwhile, a few wistful "ifs" may be read into the record. If RIVERA had not, in the first place, been engaged to paint at Rockefeller Center, the issue would never have arisen. His political views were perfectly well known. He had even ridiculed the ROCKEFELLERS in one of his murals in Mexico. If the ROCKEFELLERS had removed the fresco, instead of permitting it to be hacked to bits, there would have been no cause for further complaint. Although the process is delicate and difficult, wall paintings done in this medium can be removed-as so recent an expert as the late GARDNER HALE (basing his recipe upon advice received from another famous Mexican, Orozco) has explained in his valuable little book, "Fresco Painting". Finally--and this would have been simplest of all--if the ROCKEFELLERS had advised RIVERA that structural changes involving the wall in question were to be undertaken, and invited him to come in and take his fresco away, such a procedure would have gone far toward forestalling criticism of any kind. THE WASHINGTON POST February 14, 1934 Art for Propaganda's Sake Revolutionary artistic circles profess to be outraged because somebody who directs the affairs of Rockefeller Center, that group of monumental buildings in midtown New York, has had Diego Rivera's controversial mural erased from one of the walls. Last May Mr. Rockefeller told Rivera to stop his work when it was discovered that Rivera had painted in the head of Lenin, demi-god of revolution. It was charged that the artist had done so without including the head in a sketch he submitted. Anyway, Rivera served an ultimatum that he would make no change and that either his work stayed or he didn't. Mr. Rockefeller paid him to the full amount of his contract and Rivera walked out. To show how he felt about it, he went up to Columbia and made a hot speech on capitalism to a student assembly. Since then the mural has been under burlap and thousands of persons have walked by without even suspecting the social dynamite beneath. Saturday night workmen with pick-axes took down mural, plaster, and all, and put back a new, bare plaster wall without any sort of covering. Structural changes, it was said, necessitate the removal. Rivera, however, cables from Mexico City that "the Rockefellers have committed an act of cultural vandalism" and that justice should prevent "the assassination of human creation." The New Workers' School, a Communist institution, is at least equally irate. Even so mild and philosophical a crusader as Lincoln Steffens is moved by the incident to say that "Capitalism can't take it." Perhaps capitalism isn't able to take it, but a man who has accepted as much as Mr. Rockefeller is reported to have taken with his Radio City venture, should at least be able to determine whether or not a head of Lenin belongs on one of his walls. After all, art isn't yet so sacred that it should be imposed, willy nilly, upon those who find it distasteful. Let Mr. Rivera try to deify a capitalist spokesman on the walls of the Kremlin and his faith in the inviolability of artistic conception will probably be even further shaken. THE [London] TIMES February 14, 1934 Communist Fresco Destroyed From our own Correspondent NEW YORK, Feb. 13--The Rockefeller Centre announced yesterday, in answer to inquiries, that the mural painting by Diego Rivera in the great hall of the R.C.A. Building had been removed from the wall, and that the space it had occupied had been replastered. The removal had involved the destruction of the painting. In this fresco Rivera had attempted, without the knowledge of the Rockefeller Centre, to glorify Lenin and Communism. The discovery of what he had done led to the termination of his contract last May, when the painting was still incomplete. THE NEW YORK TIMES February 15, 1934 ART SOCIETY QUITS SHOW IN PROTEST Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Decide Not to Exhibit at Rockefeller Center BUT INDEPENDENTS WILL Obliged to Accept Offer of Free Space, Sloan Explains-- Score Destruction of Mural 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. THE NEW YORK TIMES February 18, 1934 MURAL PAINTING In the discussion of the Rivera Rockefeller imbroglio most of the bouquets have gone to RIVERA and the brickbats to the ROCKEFELLERS. This is an unfair distribution, as any fault in the matter was pretty equally divided. While there is no reason why a mural painter should not be a propagandist, there is also no good reason for employing him unless you want his propaganda. Not really wanting it, the ROCKEFELLERS were ill-advised in assigning a wall to RIVERA. On the other hand, he knew, or ought to have known, that he could not give them what they expected. The misunderstanding is so characteristic of the present plight of mural painting that it deserves consideration on gem artistic grounds, quite apart from anybody's merit or blame. There is a tendency to treat mural painting, entirely out of its own long and sound tradition, merely as a form of collecting. One desires a Rivera or an Orozco wall, just as he desires a canvas by VAN GOGH or CEZANNE. This is not and never has been a way to get a good mural painting. Through the entire history of art, well-decorated walls have come from an agreement between the artist and the patron. They consider together how the room is to be used, what it means, and then find appropriate subject-matter. This is embodied in sketches, so that both painter and patron know about what to expect. The meaning of the space to be decorated is really for the patron to say, but he will naturally welcome the artist's advice. The decorative arrangement of the subject-matter agreed on is primarily the artist's affair, but if he is wise he will take his patron's opinion into account as the work progresses. This is what has actually happened whenever a wall has been well decorated, from before GIOTTO to our own JOHN LAFARGE. Merely assigning a wall and letting the artist do as he likes is a thing of yesterday. It is producing lamentable results. It is good neither for the wall nor for the artist. To look at a wall merely as an opportunity to paint anything that interests you at the moment is to risk painting the wall inappropiately. There is no abler mural painter in America today than THOMAS BENTON, but his vision of the sordid energies of Manhattan in the Library of the Whitney Museum--in a place where one wishes to read tranquilly, to live in that timeless realm which is art is an overscale reminder of the activities of the gigolo and the gangster. It is a very fine painting, but a complete misfit. Consultation with the intelligent management of the Whitney Museum could have worked out something better. Mr. BENTON, meanwhile, could have waited for a wall in a library of criminology. Similarly, who can-sip tea before OROZCO'S gigantic mural of raw and animal Mexico in the restaurant of the New School? It is a place where one would wish to rest after lectures, or sup in company. Perhaps it is lucky that MICHELANGELO is safely under ground. It is our only guarantee that there never can be a Sistene Ceiling in an American ballroom. Precisely because the visiting Mexican painters are of extraordinary ability, of refreshing vitality and resourcefulness, it is a pity that they disregarded those considerations of scale and fitness which are the essence of any fine mural painting. It may be our shame that the Titanism which they have developed in depicting the Mexican Revolution does not chime with smaller life. All the same, if they cannot or will not take the pains to understand our civilization their work here will remain an exotic, and the free giving of walls to them a mistake in taste and judgment. To give them patronage has become a fashion. But it is a bad fashion, on the whole, judged by its results. THE NEW YORK TIMES February 19, 1934 1,000 VOICE PROTEST AT RUINED MURAL Meeting Adopts Resolutions Condemning Destruction of Rockefeller Center Work Resolutions of protest against the destruction of the mural of Diego Rivera in Rockefeller Center were adopted last night at a meeting of about 1,000 persons in Irving Plaza, living Place at Fifteenth Street, which had been called by a group Of artists and writers. Miss Suzanne LaFollette was chairman and the resolutions were adopted after speeches had been made by Ralph M. Pearson industrial artist and lecturer at the New School for Social Research; Walter Pach, artist and critic; Miss Lucienne Bloch, artist and an assistant to Rivera in the creation of the destroyed work; John Sloan, artist and president of the Society of Independent Artists, and Bertram D. Wolfe, a director of the New Workers School in West Fourteenth Street where Rivera recently completed a mural in which the head of John D. Rockefeller Sr. appears. An admission fee of 25 cents was charged to cover the expenses of the group which called the gathering. Mr. Pach drew an analogy between the destruction of the mural and the Sacco-Vanzetti case and declared that the same motive was apparent in both, the fear and attempted suppression of "radicalism." THE NEW YORK TIMES February 19, 1934 The Rivera Mural To the Editor of The New York Times: Your editorial of today "Removing a Mural" is correct in stating that such an operation does not involve destroying a mural, as witness a fresco by Pollaiuolo presented to the Metropolitan Museum by Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the walls of a villa near Pompelii purchased for the same institution by J. Pierpont Morgan. In both cases the work of artists was removed from the walls under conditions physically identical with those at Rockefeller Center, and preserved for the world by men who had a sense of the importance of art. In pursuing the opposite course and destroying the Rivers mural the directors of Rockefeller Center show that they have no sense of the importance of art, or else no respect for it. Whoever remains silent in the presence of such vandalism condones the act, even if less specifically than the president of the National Academy does when he says that "Mr. Rockefeller had the painting destroyed, as he had a perfect right to do". From a legal standpoint Mr. Vanderbilt and Mr. Morgan had a "perfect right", I suppose, to destroy their frescoes, but the civilized world would have considered such action as a blot on our culture. Certain artists, of whom I am one, have voiced their condemnation of the act at Rockefeller Center by withdrawing their consent to participate in an exhibition to be held there. The fresco being destroyed, we know, of course, that our gesture will not bring it back; what we think needs demonstrating is that there are people in this country who will not acquiesce when even the most powerful interests take the law into their own hands. WALTER PACH New York, Feb. 14, 1934 THE NEW YORK TIMES February 19, 1934 PROTEST RIVERA MURALS 1,000 Catholic Students Boycott Detroit Institute of Art Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES: DETROIT, Feb. 22.--Catholic students here resolved today to boycott the Detroit Institute of Art until certain wall frescoes are either removed or altered. This is in protest against the "affront to patriotism and religion which is presented by the murals of Diego Rivera". William J. McGrail, president of the Detroit Catholic Students Conference, presented the resolution to 1,000 young men and women attending the Catholic Sodality Symposium at Marygrove College. The resolution says that "the recent obliteration of the murals of Diego Rivera in Radio City, New York, and his statements and those of his backers at the time, clearly stamp him as a Communist and propagandist", and adds that the Catholic student leaders of Detroit have pledged their "undying opposition to the Rivera murals in the Detroit Institute of Arts". THE NEW MASSES February 20, 1934 THE Rockefellers approved Rivera's mural until the last moment when he inserted the head of Lenin. The barbarous destruction of the fresco is therefore directed exclusively against the head of Lenin as the symbol of the world-wide struggle of the workers for their emancipation from capitalism and the establishment as a free classless society. The Rockefellers are among the leading exploiters of America. Their vandalism is primarily a political act; it is an act of propaganda in behalf of the capitalist oppression, against the forces of liberation which find leadership and inspiration in Lenin. The massacre of the mural should be a dramatic object lesson to those who still suffer from the illusion that art is something above the social struggle. Art can be truly free only in a classless Communist society. Under capitalism art is at the mercy of the dominating class which, while hypocritically professing to love art, is ready to destroy it whenever it criticizes the existing order. The violence against Leninism in the realm of politics finds its equivalent in the realm of art. Let any one who doubts this consider Hitler's burning of the books and Rockefeller's destruction of Lenin's portrait. THE WASHINGTON POST February 23, 1934 Diego Rivera's Art To the Editor of the Post-- Sir: That the Post should see fit to write an editorial upholding the vandalism recruiting in teh destruction of Diego Rivera's painting, is a sad commentary on American journalism. Many years ago the conservative critic, Roger Fry, said in an essay: "The situation as regards art and as regard the disinterested love of truth is so similar that we might expect this argument in favor of a plutocratic social order to hold equally well for both art and science, and that the artist would be a fervent upholder of the present system. As a matter of fact, the representative artists have rarely been such, and not a few, though working their life long for the plutocracy, have been vehement Socialists." Diego Rivera is not the greatest artist of Mexico. His work does not have the simplicity or power of Orozco, nor the revolutionary fervor of lesser artists. Politically, Rivera is a renegade Communist; isolated from the international movement by his adherance to certain tenets of the bourgeoisie. He is actually no more a Communist in the broad sense of the word than A.J. Muste or Norman Thomas. However, it is necessary at this time for all intellectuals and workers to defend the work of artists against the ignorant, and underhand attack of the person or persons who wish to destroy works of art under the thin disguise of political prejudice. The cultural murder at the Rockefeller Center is merely an indication of the precarious position of Mexican art in a society dominated by wealth. If the so-called "democratic art" is to survive, I am afraid the artists will have to protect it by building barricades. Any local exhibit will reveal the stultified growth of contemporary art. One searches in vain for a glimpse of the American scene that surrounds us: it is smothered by nudes, and flowers, and still-lifes. My sympathy, Diego Rivera. At least you have tried to paint. CORCORAN STUDENT Alexandria, VA Feb. 17 THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE February 25, 1934 ARTS STORIED DEBATE RENEWED As a Result of the Destruction of Rivera's Mural, Critics Once More Raise the Question of Whether an Artist Can Properly Use His Talents for Propaganda BY ANITA BRENNER CAN art be propaganda and still be art? This is the controversy that in our day divides critics and artists into fierce opposing camps, one defending art for art's sake, the other repudiating anything but art with a purpose, and more specifically a political and social purpose. Interpreting propaganda in its widest sense as something done to plead a cause, serve an institution, teach or convince, the Marxists argue that art has always been propaganda, and they go so far as to say that it has always been social and political propaganda. The artist has always taken sides, they insist, whether he knew it or not, and add that, moreover, it is his function and social duty to do so knowingly. In favor of art for art's sake we have the teaching of the modernist schools, whose spokesmen--Bell, Fry, Stein--fought this century's battle for the privilege of artistic freedom from what they called "literature"--in other words, freedom from propaganda. Both sides invoke the authority of history. One clamors that the artist is a creature of his class, his time, his people; the other that the artist is worthy only in so far as he succeeds in being himself, an individual. Whistler, in his famous "Ten O'Clock", the lecture which sent Swinburne and other critics after his scalp, declared passionately: "Art feeds not upon nations, and peoples may be wiped from the face of the earth, but Art is. The master stands in no relation to the moment at which he occurs, a monument of isolation, hinting at sadness, having no part in the progress of his fellowmen. In our day art has become foolishly confounded with education". Whistler, indeed, had in mind specifically the pre-Raphaelites, who in his day were busily engaged in a pathetic battle against the machine. By reviving crafts and beautifying household goods and furnishings they hoped to bring back the charm of the guild eras and to rid their England of the depressing stuffiness in esthetic which was the expression of Victorian respectability. In the Middle Ages, they said, man was noblest and most worthy of imitation. And in order to turn back to the older values, art must have a social purpose and function; it must become again a living and essential part of the daily round, not a thing for exquisites in ivory towers-meaning Whistler. No modern historian would agree with Whistler that "art feeds not upon nations". But though the facts as we see them now may be against him, he won the battle--for a few decades. But the pendulum swings again. And now we, the generations which were nourished on the belief that art is a thing apart, a thing pure, made in a moment of inspiration for the purpose only of expressing the joy of the artist and giving pleasure to the beholder, are asked to repudiate this belief, and are told that art partakes as much of Caliban as it does of Ariel; else, we are assured, it leads to sterile and meaningless performance. We are told instead that an artist is a receiver and transmitter, and that unless he thinks of himself as such, he is put in a false position as a purveyor or luxuries; that such work is nothing but "drugs and aphrodisiacs"; and that great art must contain ideas and emotions partaken by, and to be urged upon, the common man, as well as the perfections and subtleties of technique prised by the connoisseur. The artist who feels this way is tired of a small, hushed audience. He wants to address crowds, and searches for techniques and processes by means of which his work can be done on a grand scale, in a public building perhaps; or multiplied without limit, as is a newspaper cartoon. He makes much of himself as a plebeian, dons khaki and overalls, shuns teas. He is interested in popular art, in the mood of his time, in Harlem, Coney Island, Fourteenth Street, factories; and as the Christian artist's symbol was the cross, his is the horny hand. ***** INSTEAD of aiming at personal originality and individual values, he wants to do the thing that is the common experience, and the common emotion, of masses. If he can do that, he says, his art is so much greater by that fact, for it will represent something more than a part of a whole, and this, he says, is and has always been the outstanding quality of great art in every age., The connoisseur and modern art lover may retort that paintings and sculptures-and music, too-- done from this point of view do not, by their very nature, please. They are apt to be harsh, violent, shocking. They shatter the peace of a quiet living room. And in times like these, they insist, what we want from artists are things to soothe and quiet us, things to make us forget, to give us an escape from the pressure of the nervous daily round. Masters in the past may have taken part, personally and in their work, in the social struggles and politics of their times; but, the non-Marxists argue, they were masters not because but in spite of their politics. THAT is a question to be argued in the studios. Meanwhile, the argument raging, we can go back to discover who of our great mixed art with politics or made propaganda of whatever kind. If, for the sake of starting somewhere, we begin the history of Western art with Christianity, let us see what the church had to say on the subject of what art and artists are for. Pope Nicholas V put it this way: "To create solid and stable convictions in the minds of the uncultured masses, there must be something that appeals to the eye. If the authority of the Holy see were visibly displayed in majestic buildings, unperishable memorials and witnesses seemingly planted by God Himself, belief would grow and strengthen like a tradition from one generation to another and all the world would accept and revere it. Noble edifices combining taste and beauty with imposing proportions would immensely conduce to the exaltation of the Chair of St. Peter". Is this art as propaganda? It might seem so. But is it politics? Not necessarily. And yet because the Chair of St. Peter often engaged in dispute and political struggle with one feudal lord or another, or with a rebellious cleric, or a democratic city-state, it happened more often than not that when the order for a work of art came to be given by Rome, a religious subject was used allegorically to refer to current political events, interpreted as biblical cases in which the Lord had interfered on the side of the righteous. It it not whim or accident, therefore, that Renaissance pictures portray biblical personages in contemporary clothes and with contemporary faces, for whether they were painted for a Pope or a prince, or a wealthy burgher or a city government, they were intended to glorify and, praise whatever the patron stood for and to show the villainy, and unworthiness of the enemy at, the same time as they might the pleasurable sensations of beauty. ***** FOR example, Piero de Cosimo's "Passage of the Red Sea", painted for Pope Sixtus IV, actually pictures a victory of the Pope's army over the troops of Alphonso, Prince of Calabria. Botticelli's "Punishment of the Children of Korah" alludes to the suppression of a rebellious Archbishop, Andrea Zanoumetic, who had called Sixtus IV a "son of the devil". Michelangelo's design for Pope Julius's tomb included symbolic bolic figures of all the provinces subs dued by the Pope, portrayed as vassals with their lord's foot upon their necks. similarly Raphael's decorations in the stanza d'Eliodoro commemorate victories first of Pope Julius and then of a number of Pope Leos as part of a general scheme to honor Pope Julius's successor and Raphael's principal patron, Pope Leo X. The galleries of the world are full of works of art which set forth the supreme merits of a Borgia, a Medici, in much the same ways. And among them, distinguishable only on the basis of historical information, there are other works pleading or arguing the cause of republicanism. Often enough the same artist who at one moment served the aristocracy, at another supported, with brush and maybe other weapons too, a struggling republic. And many of the same artists served, in the course of their lives, both the Vatican and Savonarola, who piously denounced the papal court as corrupt and aroused Florence: against Rome. Thus Leonardo, having designed political frescoes in the days of Savonarola's fleeting republic, afterward served the target of Savonarola's wrath, Lorenzo di Medici, and Michelangelo, having painted and built ramparts in defense of this same republic, was later called to the Vatican, reproved, and given a mighty job, which, to be sure, he felt was something of a punishment, for he was a sculptor and was being required to paint the Sistine Chapel) Botticelli, too, who had condemned rebellious clericals in one painting, produced also an "Adoration of the Infant Christ" upon which he inscribed a passionate memorial to Savonarola. And Fra Bartolommeo devoutly used church language to praise the republic, painting a "Virgin Pleading for the Liberties of brence" and "Ten Saints of the Florentine Republic". ***** TOO hastily, these things might be interpreted as evidences of the eternal fickleness of artists. But until very recently an artist took it for granted that he should paint what his client ordered, regardless of his personal views. The privilege of expressing only his own feelings and opinions and having the client buy the work regardless, is, after all, a child of the eighteenth century. Even Shakespeare complained of "art tongue-tied by authority". Complete independence, while it has been the battlecry of the past few decades, has never actually been the artist's undisputed prerogative. Though the artist may consider himself aloof, critical opinion always takes into consideration the social effect of his work; and so the French modernists were attacked on moral grounds and the Mexicans now on political. But whatever the artist believes, and however aloof and sensitive he may be, he has a living to make. History is full of republican painters pleasing kings, and of Platonists serving the church, as well as of royalist artists in courts and devout friars decorating chapels. It is rich, too, in the small comodies of artists' revenges: sly things slipped into discreet corners, funny or grim jokers handed to posterity along with the glory of the patron's and the artist's name. Michelangelo's Cardinal in hell, allowed to remain there by the Pope because, he said, he could help him out of purgatory, but not out of hell, is a famous example of a habit that was almost a tradition, for since Gothic days, at least, painters and sculptors had been using Last Judgments and Apocalypses to satisfy personal quarrels and political opinions, and had been taking advantage of architectural details to caricature what elsewhere they might glorify. * * * * * WHAT effect does politics mixed with religion, and both with art, have upon art as such? Does propaganda diminish or increase the power of a master? That is also a question to be argued in the studios. History says that in any case it is apt to alter styles. The paganist republicans in Florence, to whom we give the supreme place in the Renaissance, deliberately went to Greece for models. Greece was their ideal: a pagan republic. In itself the introduction of the nude into religious paintings, the humanization of celestial figures, and the identification of people in the world with people in the Bible, constituted a revolution against the Byzantine mysticism prescribed by the Church. AGAIN, when the revolutionary wave that was to sweep Europe and America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries struck French painting it marked the end of one style and the beginning of another, just as clearly as the fall of the Bastile marked the end of an epoch. The world of art, just before the French Revolution, took sides, as any museum reveals: one, the side of the aristocracy, was represented by the Watteau, Fragonard, and Boucher school of dainty maidens in rose bowers, roguish shepherdesses, dimpled cupids and battles of flowers. The other, the side of the insur gents, went back to Greece for classic democratic tales and allegories, and expressed itself austerely. Louis David, official painter of the French Revolution, aroused a fury of enthusiasm with his "Oath of the Horatil", but in the heat of events he abandoned allegory in favor of portraiture and reporting, thus giving impetus to the "historical school" still favored by democratic governments. He sketched Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine; painted portraits of Danton, Robespierre, Marat; recorded the famous "Oath of the Tennis Court", the delegates themselves discussing who should stand where in the picture. His most famous picture, painted at the height of the Revolution, is his portrait of Marat, dead in his bath, still with Charlotte Corday's note in his hand. Artists who believe that a cause to plead is what makes art great observe that David's powers rose an fell with the Revolution, for later, when he was a favorite in Napoleon's court, though his influence on the tastes and styles of the time was enormous, he undeniably declined as a master. But the rule does not hold for Delacroix, who in the heat of the Revolution of 1848 painted "Liberty Guiding the People", one of the most famous propaganda pictures in the world; but his later work has little to do with current politics and is powerful just the same. Delacroix, indeed, went so far as to disavow his earlier position as a revolutionist when he attacked the revolutionists of the next generation, who called themselves realists. Criticizing Courbet, a leader in this group and a friend of Prud'hon, he wrote: "Eh! Cursed realist, would you perhaps produce in me the illusion that I am really present at the spectacle which you wish to put before me? It is the cruel reality of things which I flee when I take refuge in the world of creative art!" THE protest and the answer are almost identical today, for this was the program of the realists: "Actuality and the social tendency of art are our chief concerns. Next come truth in representation and the greater or lesser skill in material execution. We demand actuality before all else because we desire the reaction of art upon society and its impulse toward progress. We ask truth of art because, to be understood, it must be alive". Daumier put his position more simply. He said, "One must be of his time". But he went much further than his contemporaries in his work, for he spent all his life on propaganda for radical publications and died still known as a good caricaturist, but an odd fellow, a wildhaired agitator. Some of the mightiest names in the hundred troubled years between 1770 and 1870 turn up in political history at unexpected moments. Beethoven is said to have begun his "Eroica" to honor Napoleon when he became First Consul, and he wrote Napoleon's name on the titlepage next to his own. When he learned that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor Beethoven destroyed troyed the dedication indignantly and began the symphony over again. Its second movement is a funeral march. David was not only the artist of the Jacobins, but a Jacobin himself and a member of the assembly which voted the death of Louis XVI. Courbet held a position in the Paris Com mune, and at that time ordered the Vendome Column destroyed because he said it "honored war and conquest". He was jailed for it when the Commune fell and ordered to pay the costs of re-erecting the monument. To escape perpetual jail he flied to Switzerland and died an exile. Wagner in his day, like Paderewski later, was as much a political figure as a musician, even fighting in the barricades. To what end? What did they want from politics that entered into the field of art? Or from art that in volved them and their work in politics? Each had his answer. Yet fundamentally they were all fighting the same battle, which raged in literature and music, too, as in the press and on the barricades, and this was the battle for individual liberties. ***** PARADOXICALLY now, it was the right of art not to serve the King, the church, the family, or an institution or cause which inflamed the intellectuals and the artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A declaration of artistic independence was therefore apt to drive some into open political rebellion and to affect, in turn, the work dome in defiance of official tradition and accepted convention to the point of making it propaganda. But the fun of going against convention and authority also entered into the artistic rebels' mood. Both Whistler and the pre-Raphaelites made much of being bohemian, unVictorian, aloof and hostile to the social order of their day. The French realists, though at sword's points with the romanticists, shared with them a disdain for convention and respectability. Morris in England and Courbet in France were considered the last word in disreputability. "But", wrote a friend of Courbet, "even his unpopularity aided his cause. It was so unanimous and so persistently engineered that none of his pictures passed unmolested for a period of thirty years, his reputation gained ground through his notoriety and every proscription of his work brought him mew friends and mew disciples". It is hard to see mow why these paintings should have aroused such storms of protest. Courbet, long accepted as one of the illustrious ancestry of modern art, is looked upon as a great creator end a great innovator. The disreputable Rabelaisian everywhere known as a dangerous Communist can be found only in the newspapers and memoirs of his day. And it is hard to see the propaganda content of his pictures. Yet this is what the critics said: 'This century is too serious, God be thanked, to accept these things which are called the last word in art. What singular aberration is this, them, of artists who, like M. Courbet, imagine that anything which is real cam be, or should be, represented? What is there to be seem on the street, except at every step nothing but sights which shock one's taste, one's refined education, one's elegant customs? Does he want to make the proletariat more interesting to us so that we should desire a better fate for it? If so, his methods are unhappily chosen. The hue and the cry made in this way is mot reputation, it is scandal". ***** TODAY we grant most of the liberties that the propagandists of the past demaned. Art for art's sake rules our view, and this, the triumph of individualism, is carte blanche to the artist to paint or carve what he chooses. We are not disturbed by Goya's savage satire, by Courbet's communism or Daumier's; we admire Forain, propagandist against the horrors of the World War. We may even eclectically take pleasure in surrealism, even though, in spite of the highly subjective and individual expression of this school, it proclaims that its program includes "In politics, communism". But the issue, whether art should emphasize the realities and tragedies of the world or should soothe and enchant with illusion, is still before us, though it is decided individually and mot by government regulation. Yet we still cherish the idea of the artist as a serene being sheltered from chaos and shock, producing things to give us peace and inspiration. We hate to lose the illusion that he is a creature mot quite human. We resent, too, finding agitation where we expected a lyric, and harsh mess instead of sweetness and light. We do mot want to be criticized; we want to be amused. On the other hand, we forget that most of the art that we call great is tragic, disturbing, seldom pretty and never amusing. Through the ages, the artist has struggled to set forth life as accurately, as truthfully, as he can see and feel it. His peculiar mode may take the political or religious shades of his time, and the search for the thing that he is after, in his work, may involve him in struggles which seem distant enough from art. So he may call himself--and his work--by whatever name signifies his esthetic creed and social attitude; he may be, and paint, Catholic, republican, paganist, humanist, Jacobin, Fascist, Communist. He can call himself, and we can call him, a propagandist. But to the degree that he cuts below the things which in his time are politically significant, to the common denominators of all times and and all humanity, he moves us. And though he may have, or have had, a social axe to grind, if he has also a new bottle for the old wine known as beauty, we know longer call him a propagandist. We put him among the immortals and call his work art. THE NEW YORK TIMES February 26, 1934 EINSTEIN PRAISES RIVERA FOR HIS ART WORK HERE Special Cable to the New York Times MEXICO, D.F., Feb. 25--Dr. Albert Einstein's opinion of the work of Diego Rivera, Mexican artist, was disclosed today in a letter received by Senor Rivera from the scientist. The letter reads: "Dear Mr. Rivera: The New Workers School of New York has sent me photographs of the paintings with which you have decorated that institution. I am happy to take this opportunity to express my deep admiration. It would be difficult to name an artist of the present time whose work has moved me so profoundly. I wish the world would recognize more what you have given it." TIME MAGAZINE XXIII, 9 February 26, 1934 Radical Muralists The front lobby wall of the RCA Building in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center has worn a false face of white plaster since last spring (TIME, May 22). Behind that mask was a great, bright unfinished fresco by Muralist Diego Rivera. When the visage of Nikolai Lenin unexpectedly blossomed in the centre of the painting, the Rockefellers paid Communist Rivera off with $14.000 due him, covered his work with canvas. Late one night last week workmen wheeled a fleet of wheelbarrows into the RCA Building lobby, set a movable scaffold against the wall. It was no trick to get off the covering coat of creamcolored canvas. But Rivera's mural, like all true fresco, had been painted into a coat of plaster. The workmen tried to get it off in big chunks, save as much as they could. But they claimed later that once broken, the great fresco crumbled into powder which was wheeled out of the lobby to oblivion. Speedily the workmen slapped a fresh coat of plaster on the scarified wall. Next morning a faint smell of new plaster was the lobby's only clue to the night's deed. Such stealthy destruction of the Rivera mural by the Rockefeller management stirred a tumult in the art world. Against Rockefeller Center and next week's Municipal Art Exhibit to be held there, eleven members of the Society of Independent Artists declared a boycott. The Rockefellers were accused of "cultural vandalism." of "murder with malice aforethought." The American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers (membership: 90) joined the boycott. declaring: "The Rockefeller family had no moral right..." Radical Suzanne La Follette called a protest meeting, rallied critics as well as In Mexico City Painter Rivera declared, "My object was attained when the painting was destroyed. I thank the Rockefellers for its destruction because the act will advance the cause of the labor revolution.." But the lawyers of Rockefeller Center were better than artists at word logic. The latter, unwilling to tar themselves with Rivera's Communist brush, had muted their real indignation against the destruction of a fine work of art, on whatever grounds. Their boycott, they insisted, was based on destruction without the artist's permission. The lawyers dug up an old piece of Rivera rhetoric that sounded something like a "permission." They flipped it at the artists, quickly and completely deflated the protests and boycotts. In that letter, dated last May Mexican muralist had said: "Rather than mutilate the conception. I should the physical destruction of the conception in its entirety." One by one, "in spite of any personal feelings individual members may still have," the artists called off their boycott of the Municipal Art Exhibit. Rivera replied that he was ready to paint replicas of the fresco wherever there was a wall. THE ART DIGEST March 1, 1934 Walls and Ethics The destruction by the owners of Rockefeller Center, New York, of Diego Rivera's much discussed mural in which he introduced the figure of Lenin has raised a question that perhaps has no answer except a qualified one. Has the owner of a work of art the right to destroy it? Almost instinctively the answer comes. "No". Yet when the representatives of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., caused Rivera's mural to be chiselled off the wall in the RCA Building there was a thunderous clash of opinion both in the art world and in the press. "It was premeditated art murder", said John Sloan. "It was cultural vandalism", cried Rivera. But Harry Watrous, president of the National Academy of Design, said: "Poppycock) 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". Certainly a work of art is a part of the heritage of the race, the same as a poem, a play or a musical composition. However, when we pass this mark, qualifications begin to creep in. The owner of a volume of Poe's poems has a right to throw it in the fire if he wants to. But if the volume happens to be a Shakespeare First Folio, would he have that right? The owner of a set of sheet music unquestionably has the right to destroy it. But if the music happens to be an unpublished and unperformed piece by Shubert which has just been discovered, would he have that right? Does the declaration of Rivera that he intends to paint exact replicas of his "Lenin mural" both in the United States and Mexico lessen the, Rockefeller offense? Certainly the owner of a house has a right to decorate it with whatever paintings or sculpture he desires, and as he has full choice in the matter his "right" to buy and destroy paintings would be a case for insanity experts rather than one of ethics. Presumably the owner of a wall should have the same choice in mural paintings. And the whole crux of the present controversy seems to be whether Mr. Rockefeller was treated fairly. Did he know when Rivera left space in his sketches for a "great leader" that the muralist intended to portray Lenin? Perhaps those holding the most radical views in the matter are really thinking of whether or not Mr. Rockefeller has a right to own a wall. It will be seen that straight thinking on this subject is extremely difficult. The Nation was off balance when it remarked, "Altogether, the Rivera episode was one of the Rockefellers' less successful ventures in oil". The mural was in fresco. And the New Yorker when it accused the Rockefellers of poor showmanship, because they "had a mighty good thing in a Rivera mural: it was their chance to give the public an exclusive feature", failed to consider the miles on miles of newspaper publicity which "the episode" provided. And any sort of thinking will arrive at the fact that Rivera, who is hailed as "the world's greatest mural painter", might very well be elected president emeritus of all the world's publicity agents. Of all newspaper comment on the incident, perhaps the most useful was that appearing in an editorial in the New York Times. CONTACT MAGAZINE NEW YORK VOL. 1 No. 1 February, 1932 Mickey Mouse and American Art By Diego Rivera The other night after a lecture on The Functions of Art and of the Artists in Present Day Society we prolonged the same theme and arrived at length at the discussion of things which are not taken seriously, not even by those who make them. I remember innumerable things made in Mexico which are destined to be destroyed--sculptures in sugar, made to be eaten; sculptures in cardboard and paper made especially to be torn to pieces or burnt (The Judases). And those things are the ones which really possess the greatest plastic value in the art of Mexico. If some day a famous artist were not to look for but to stumble onto the way to attain, to create one of those objects, the "world of art" would be gaping and the museums of the entire world would be offering anything to acquire the marvelous object. But all those playthings for children and grown-ups live and without disquieting the realm of the esthetes. It may be that some day an esthete will "find" or "discover" the beauty of those things. The people of good taste will be astonished by them. Probably at that moment, such things will cease being produced; or will become as boring as the art of the artists. Don't be alarmed! I do not believe that I am discovering the theory of unconscious creation; others have sought and found it long ago. I am only referring to the subject of our discussion of the other night. If we look at the characteristics of the animated cartoons which are shown in the movies, we find them to be of the purest and most definitive graphic style, of the greatest efficacy as social products, drawings joyous and simple that make the masses of tired men and women rest, make the children laugh till they are weary and ready for sleep and will let the grown-ups rest undisturbed. Not the style, the standardization of the drawing of details, the infinite variety of the groupings, as in the painted friezes of the Egyptians and the earthenware vases of the Greeks! And with all that, the added quality of motion! And their representation in the movie, which according to Mr. Einstein is the only art of today! If that be so, lucky for the oculist! And also for the insomniac, if he is fortunate enough to find a quiet sound film and a comfortable loge. Let us admit that those animated cartoons express the most logical yet most unexpected rhythms by the necessity of their technique-the most direct expressions, uniting the greatest efficiency with the greatest economy. Finally we may conclude that perhaps if the films can be preserved, the people who at last will possess a theatre, will refuse to accept the tine-dramas most admired today. The masses which will have realized by then the genuine revolution, will not interest themselves greatly in the "revolutionary films" of today. And all that, together with the pictures and statues and poetry and prose which may have survived the general cleansing of the world, will be looked at with compassionate curiosity. But probably the animated cartoons will divert the adults then as now and make the children die laughing. And the esthetes of that day will find that MICKEY MOUSE was one of the genuine heroes of American Art in the first half of the 20th Century, in the calendar anterior to the world revolution. THE ARCHITECTURAL FORUM March, 1934 Murder of Art? Late one night last month, workmen chipped from the wall of the RCA Building lobby in Rockefeller Center the plaster-covered fresco of Diego Rivera which caused almost a year ago the most bitter art controversy New York had ever experienced. Todd, Robertson & Todd, general managers of the Center, had chosen a late hour so as not to disturb tenants but perhaps they also hoped that news of the destruction would not reach the sensitive ears of the press. But the press was only two days late in finding it out-and when it did, they launched an even louder wail than had accompanied the act of covering it up. Artists were even more voluble than Communists in denouncing the Rockefellers for their "vandalism", but there were many who doubted whether the Rockefellers personally had even known of the destruction. Artist Leon Kroll voiced the sentiments of the city's liberals thus: "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. It was particularly unfortunate to do so at this time since the purpose of the forthcoming Municipal Art Show (to be held at Rockefeller Center) 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". So many artists sided against the Rockefellers that for a time it looked as if the Municipal Art Show would be moved to some other place as a protest. But for the good of all artists in the city, the secessionists decided to permit their work to be shown in the "halls of the Philistines". Everyone agreed that a more sensible disposition of the unwanted fresco would have been to remove it piece by piece without destroying it, as could have been done by experts skilled in archaeology. THE NEW YORK TIMES March 18, 1934 Mural War Persists One would imagine that Mr. JOHN SLOAN ought to know the difference between a mural painting and an easel picture, but he does not sound like it. As president of the Society of Independent Artists he said the other day that the annual show would not be held in Rockefeller Center because it feared censorship. Mr. Sloan thought some artist might be moved to speak out strongly, in paint, about the recent destruction of the Diego Rivera mural, and the Rockefeller family would thereupon turn thumbs down on that pictorial bit of criticism. All the chances are that the Rockefeller family would do nothing of the kind. It is censorship to suppress a picture or a statue. It is not censorship to suppress a mural display which is in shrieking contradiction with its environment, with its own purpose. A mural painting is a signboard.. People don't hang signboards in front of inns announcing that poison is on sale within. They don't put up over the doors of schools Latin inscriptions stating that children's minds are befogged inside. Yet that is what a Lenin mural on a Rockefeller business structure amounts to. A member of the Rockefeller family might easily hang on the wall of his private library or a photographic reproduction of the destroyed Rivera fresco. It would be in place there. THE NEW YORK TIMES April 3, 1934 2 Shots Fired at Rivera; Artist Bares Nazi Threat Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. MEXICO, D. F., April 2.-Diego Rivera, the world-famous mural painter, the removal of whose paintings recently from the Rockefeller Center in New York caused a furor, was visited early this morning by gunmen who fired two shots through windows of his residence in the fashionable resort of San Angelo on the outskirts of this city. Both bullets entered his bedroom wall. Senor Rivera told the police he had recently received threatening letters from Nazi sympathizers who apparently were incensed by his treatment of Adolf Hitler in his Rockefeller Center murals. THE NEW REPUBLIC April 4, 1934 Mexican Artists Against Rockefeller SIR: The undersigned, Mexican artists and I, Diego Rivera, thank the North American workers and artists who have protested against the destruction of the murals at Radio City because they understand the importance of this crime. This act of sympathy deserves our fullest gratitude. At the same time, we protest indignantly and energetically against the stupid interpretation which has been placed upon the words of Diego Rivera, words which pointed out the importance of finishing the fresco at Radio City and his decision that it would be preferable to destroy it rather than have his conception mutilated. The unfair interpretation which the Rockefellers made of this was that Diego Rivera thereby authorized the destruction of the work. We also protest against the attitude of those painters who, satisfied with the explanation given by the capitalistic Rockefellers to clear themselves, brought their paintings back to the Municipal Art Exhibition at Radio City after having first withdrawn them. And, above all, we protest because the Rockefellers, not content with the destruction of the fresco, seek to conceal Rivera's purpose by taking refuge behind a deceitful interpretation of his words. As a matter of simple justice and in the name of civilization, we ask the establishment of a legal guarantee to protect creative works of art dealing with collectivism, even though they are actually owned by the capitalists who paid for them. We understand a work of art to be anything useful to human beings who are producers, and anything helpful in the progress toward a collectivized society, that being the goal of our struggle. Likewise, we understand by useless or false art that which creates in men's minds the opposite effect, which is to say, anything which subordinates mass welfare to the private interests of those who hold the money power. In like manner, morphine and cocaine, which were developed in order that man might benefit by their curative qualities, have been perverted by the vicious practices of capitalism into poisons for the human race. Mexico, D.F. [SIGNATURES] [This letter was personally signed by eighty-three prominent Mexican painters, writers, lawyers, physicians and scientists. Lack of space prevents the printing of their names.--THE EDITORS.] THE NEW YORK TIMES April 11, 1934 Mexico Follows Kerensky In the clash of views Mexico between the Rockefeller family and Mexico's most eminent mural painter, has it ever been pointed out that DIEGO RIVERA does not enjoy the moral support of his native country? The battle of Rockefeller Center raged around RIVERA'S apotheosis of LENIN. The message conveyed by his Mexican peasants is the gospel of proletarianism and Leninism; so much so that RIVERA'S public finds itself thinking of Mexico as a Bolshevist State. But Mexico is neither Leninist or Stalinist. Odd though it may seem, Mexico is today a Kerensky country. A social revolution has been under way, but in gradualist fashion. Land is being given to the peons, but without the "liquidation" of the former owners or the more prosperous peasants. There has been a conflict between church and State, but it has not been a war of proscription and extermination. Mexico is not a proletarian State like Soviet Russia. It stands much nearer in practice and temper to the democratic progressive model. EMILIO CALLES has not walked in the path of LENIN, but along the road which KERENSKY wished to follow. DIEGO RIVERA'S ideal Mexican statesman is not CALLES, but the late "proletarian" general, ZAPATA. THE WASHINGTON POST April 11, 1934 War on the Art Front Lenin has reappeared at Rockefeller Center. He first showed up there in a mural by Diego Rivera, the Mexican Communist, and was promptly banished because it was feared his presence might be embarassing in that sumptuous Temple of Oil. Now he has come back again--but not in a mural by Rivera. That was destroyed, despite loud protest that such action was indefensible. His present appearance is in an oil painting by a little known artist named Orencio Miras, and it appears with 3,499 others in an Independent Artists' exhibition. This time it is doubtful if his appearnce will be protested--by the Rockefellers. Far from it. He appears in most unsavory surroundings, with a snake, a vulture, a shark, a soap box, and a death's head for company. His admission to that sumptuous pile of real estate will not end the war of the artists that has raged for more than a year. Many painters, disgusted at the destruction of the Rivera mural, refused to send their works of art to this show. They charged the Rockefeller group with censorship. The stand-pats denied this and cast about for some ground on which to refute this charge. They saw the face of Lenin, but it lout them little cheer. This was an acceptable Lenin. Then they found, in a corner, Maurice Becker's "The Mask of Fascism." This painting, which they had pointed to proudly as proof of their uncensorious attitude, may cause another row. It shows a steel-helmeted soldier--his face hidden by a mask of President Roosevelt--clutching a bloody bayonet, while above a field of corpses a blue eagle soars, clutching a money bag. "If that isn't subversive, I'd like to know," said Folger Cahill, director of the show. It looks as if there is going to be trouble on the art front in New York. When artists dabble in politics, and parade their propaganda in paint, they may not add much to the beauty of the world. But they furnish something to talk about, even on these sluggish days of sloppy spring. THE NEW YORK TIMES June 14, 1934 Rivera Will Reproduce Lenin Mural in Mexico Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. MEXICO, D. F., June 13.-The Lenin mural in the RCA Building in New York, which was destroyed last February, will be reproduced by Diego Rivera on the main wall of the National Theatre here, a contract to that effect having been signed today. The imposing building, now on the point of completion after many years' delay, has already cost approximately $4,000,000. The wall facing Seiior Rivera's work will be painted by Jose Clemente Orozco, whose murals adorn some of the walls of Dartmouth College. Senor Rivera's work on his mural in the RCA Building was halted May 9, 1933, by Nelson A. Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., when the artist refused to substitute another face for that of Lenin. Mr. Rockefeller said that the Lenin portrait "might very easily seriously offend a great many people." THE NEW YORK TIMES July 21, 1934 Rivera Will Reproduce Rockefeller Center Mural Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. MEXICO, D. F., July 20.-Diego Rivera, who has been invited to paint murals for Mexico's Palace of Fine Arts, announces that he will reproduce the mural painted for Rockefeller Center in New York, which was destroyed before its completion. Jose Clemente Orozco also has been invited to paint a mural for the Palace of Fine Arts but has not yet decided on his theme. The Palace of Fine Arts is nearing completion. Its construction started in 1905, but for many years during.' revolutionary periods the work was suspended. Its approximate cost will be $30,000,000. THE NEW YORK TIMES July 22, 1934 Places Alter Cases Diego Rivera, it is reported from Mexico City, will paint for the new Palace of Fine Arts an exact reproduction of the destroyed murals in Rockefeller Center. It thus seems likely that Mexico will be the gainer by the famous controversy of the West Fifties but it does not necessarily prove that Rivera had the better case in that affair. If anything, a great Rivera success in Mexico City would suggest that his picture did not quite belong in Rockefeller Center. This contention sets out from the thesis that a piece of mural painting should be appropiate to its setting. If the rejected Rivera fresco is exactly the thing for revolutionary Mexico, it cannot be quite the thing for an architectural monument of American capitalism. If the decoration is completely appropriate to a museum of fine arts, it could not have been the best conceivable mural for the foyer of a great business building. THE NEW YORK TIMES November 22, 1936 Diego Rivera Arrested in Mexican Capital in Row Over Changes in His Hotel Frescoes MEXICO, D. F., Nov. 21.-Diego Rivera, who parted company with the Rockefellers in a dispute over his satirical murals in Rockefeller Center, New York, ran into the same trouble here today and also a charge that he entered a hotel with five pistols. Retouching of four frescoes for the new Hotel Reforms to lessen the sting of their barbed shafts at officialdom stunned Rivera to action. He complained that the features of a figure resembling ex-President Plutarco Elias Calles were modified; some colors of a composite flag of countries Rivera considers under dictators, including the United States, were erased; and an army officer dancing with an Indian squaw was retouched. An attorney and a Masons Union official obtained permission to inspect the reported changes. But, the hotel owner charged, Rivera "with twenty other Communists" burst into the building, not yet opened, shouting and resentful. Declaring he authorized only the lawyer and union official to make the inspection, the hotel proprietor had the others arrested. The police released them later with the announcement that Rivera carried five pistols when taken into custody. The Rockefeller dispute in 1933 centered about Rivera's refusal to remove a portrait of Nikolai Lenin from the Rockefeller Center development in New York City. The dispute ended with an order removing Rivera's work. The Mexican retouching, Rivera contended, was a "worse crime against art than the Rockefeller affair." "Falsification of work which I signed is just like forging a check," he said. To this Alberto J. Paul, former Secretary of Public Works, who built the hotel, replied: "We changed the paintings with our own hands, as we had a perfect right to do." Rivera's assertion that he might sue the hotel company for violation of its labor contract with the labor union was "completely foolish," Pans continued. "If we as owners of the building want to make some changes on our property, and work without wages, then the syndicate can do nothing about it." Paul insisted the contract with the labor syndicate covered only the painting of the walls, but Rivera took the stand that he painted the frescoes under the contract also Paul said charges of breaking and entering filed against Rivera "probably will be carried through." The muralist, contending the hotel was uncompleted and therefore "does not constitute a dwelling" to which the charge would be applicable, said he might counter with a charge of false arrest. Although one of the mural figures is identified with General Calles by many, Rivera said. +'That was not my intention." Of the Rockefeller episode the artist said: "In that case Mr. Rockefeller [John D. Rockefeller Jr.] asked me to change the paintings. I refused. He paid me and destroyed the paintings, which was his legal right. This is worse because changes were made surreptitiously over my signature."