Man at the Crossroads

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Date: 1933

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Public Art, Painting


Controversial portion of mural depicting Lenin.

Artist: Diego Rivera

Confronting Bodies: U.S. Government

Dates of Action: 1933

Location: The Rockefeller Center, New York City, NY

Description of Artwork: A mural portrait commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller for Rockefeller Center in New York City. Its subject was to be "human intelligence in control of the forces of nature." The 63 feet by 17 feet mural contained in the center a portrait of Lenin.

The Incident: "On May 22, 1933, Rivera was called down from his scaffold where he was still working on the unfinished mural. He was handed a check for $14,00, the balance of his fee, and informed that he had been dismissed. Within 30 minutes the mural had been covered by tarpaper and a wooden screen.

Results of Incident: "Seeking a compromise, Rockefeller suggested that Rivera should replace Lenin with some unknown face; the artist offered to add Lincoln but refused to expunge Lenin. Charged with willful propagandizing, he declared only that 'All art is propaganda.' Since he had accepted his payment, Rivera was unable to force the Rockefellers to exhibit or even keep his work. The mural was subsequently removed from the wall..." The Encyclopedia of Censorship, J. Green, Facts on File, pg. 254

Source: The Encyclopedia of Censorship, J. Green, Facts on File