Thursday, 15 January 2009


In yesterday´s blog, I ran a poem written in 1933. On reflection, I think it needs a little context. Above is a photograph of it. The story below was lifted from a kind website, without permission.


The next time you walk into Rockefeller Center in New York City, try to imagine an enormous mural in the lobby area, painted by Diego Rivera. Imagining the mural is all one can do.
In 1932, after seeing some of Rivera’s murals, Nelson Rockefeller asked if he would be interested in painting a mural in the Radio Corporation Arts Building in Rockefeller Center. Interestingly, Picasso and Matisse were also asked but both refused the offer. Rivera himself initially rejected the invitation. But Rockefeller finally persuaded Rivera to accept
In 1933, Rivera began his work. The painting, Man at the Crossroads, was to depict the social, political, industrial, and scientific possibilities of the twentieth century. In the painting, Rivera included a scene of a giant May Day demonstration of workers marching with red banners with the clear portrait of Lenin leading the demonstration.
Rockefeller showed his concern over Rivera including a portrait of the Russian revolutionary leader in his mural. Nelson Rockefeller told Rivera that while the portrait was beautifully painted, it might easily offend a great many people. He asked the painter to remove Lenin’s face and substitute it with some unknown man. Rivera’s assistants told him that if he removed the head of Lenin, they would go on strike. Rivera agreed with his assistants and told Rockefeller that Lenin’s head would stay but that he would be glad to add the head of some great American leader, such as Lincoln, to another section of the mural.
As both sides could not reach an agreement, he was ordered to stop and the painting was covered and destroyed in February of 1934.

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
Blaise Pascal

1 comment:

anominous said...

Quite hard to believe, politics coming into play in art... Well, easy to believe actually, but hard to accept.