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Book Reveals Story Behind Diego Rivera's Mural At The Rockefeller Centre

posted 13 May 2013, 15:01 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 May 2013, 15:02 ]

The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum presents a book highlighting the artist's famed Rockefeller Center "Man at the Crossroads" mural, which was destroyed months after Rivera started painting it and before it was even finished.

MEXICO CITYMEXICO (MAY 13, 2013) (REUTERS) -  A book about Mexican artist Diego Rivera's mural, "Man at the Crossroads," which was painted at the Rockefeller Center in New York and later destroyed, was unveiled in Mexico City on Monday (May 13).

The book, entitled "Man at the Crossroads: Diego Rivera's Mural at the Rockefeller Center," was published to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the mural's cancellation and destruction. It's release also came as the Diego RiveraAnahuacalli Museum put on display four monumental sketches of the destroyed mural.

The book traces Rivera's tumultuous ties with the Rockefeller family, which commissioned the "Man at the Crossroads" for the Rockefeller Center, which was under construction at the time.

But in 1934, the family ordered the destruction of the work-in-progress after Rivera refused to withdraw an image of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, according to exhibit documents. Rivera's relationship with Moscow originated from his 1927-1928 sojourn in the Soviet Union.

The book tackles themes such as why capitalist tycoons would hire an openly communist painter and why Rivera would agree to paint a mural at the Rockefeller Center.

Photographer and curator, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, said Rivera intended create political propaganda.

"They say there were another two artists, Picasso and Matisse, competing to do the mural at the Rockefeller Center. Diego moved because undoubtedly it (project) interested him. Not because he could go and work in the soul of capitalism, as he himself said, but because he had a clear intention of doing propaganda. That was clear for him. He had already spent eight months in the Soviet Union and had a political vision," he said.

The book's writer, Javier Aranda, said Rivera intended to look to the future with his mural.

"What Diego is constantly doing in Mexico is re-interpreting our past. When he reaches the United States, Diego does not look to the past but to the future. TheUnited States is the capitalist country he sees as the preliminary step before reaching socialism or communism and that's why he goes mad in many many ways with the industry, machinery and we had not been soaked in reference with that painting by Diego, which is known in the United States, and its recovery of the past."

The Director of the Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum, Carlos Phillips Olmedo, said the doomed mural marked the end of Rivera's career in the United States.

"This is where his painting of murals in the United States comes to an end because of his problem with Mr. Rockefeller. There is a very intimate relationship between what Diego does in the United States in the 1930s and the breaking-off with the Rockefeller family and in fact with the plastic arts in the United States."

Nevertheless Rivera did paint other murals in the United States. While he was inMoscow he met and established a relationship with Alfred Barr, who was the first director of MOMA when it opened in 1929.

It was Barr who invited Rivera to paint the murals at MOMA, which was then housed at a different location from its present site.