Rivera Hotel Reforma Mural

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Date: 1936

Region: Central America and the Caribbean

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Painting


Artist: Diego Rivera

Confronting Bodies: Alberto Pani

Dates of Action: 1936

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Description of Artwork: A mural consisting of four panels, created to decorate the banquet hall of the Hotel Reforma in Mexico City. "Yankee savants bedecked with asses' ears and fat fountain pens are interpreting the country to the world; an American "miss", of blond locks and arms thin as sticks, presides over the scene; faintly unpleasant masked types wave banners and hold bags of gold, while a plucked chicken represents Mexico." In another panel, a dictatorial figure presides over a carnival, "made up of political personages in all-but-human animal masks. A figure with a long, horse-like face suggests the lineaments of the fellow-traveler labor leader, Lombardo Toledano; a general of porcine visage dances with a girl who signifies Senorita Mexico, while from the basket strapped to her back, General Marrano, (Gen. Porkbarrel) robs her of her fruit."

The Incident: Alberto Pani, political figure and financier, commissioned Rivera to paint the murals for the large hotel he was building to accommodate "well-to-do American tourists". Rivera's anti-capitalist and politically cynical compositions, put Pani in what he felt was a compromising position, both toward the foreigners to which he was catering and to the Mexican political structure. Pani kept quiet until the murals were completed and Rivera was paid for his work. He then had one of his brothers come in and alter the murals until they were acceptable. A court battle ensued when Rivera was informed of this.

Results of Incident: Rivera was awarded 2,000 pesos in damages and allowed to restore the murals. Pani, however, who owned the murals had the panels removed and placed in storage where they remained for twenty years. They were later sold and are now displayed on the walls of a Mexican tourist agency.

Source: "The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera", Bertram D. Wolfe