Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gladys

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:38 am

A SALUTE BY THE U.S. NAVY

WHEN I RETURNED to San Francisco, I immediately began work on my mural in the exposition building called the Palace of Fine Arts. One day I was invited to a reception on the exposition grounds sponsored by the United States Navy. To my surprise, I found that I was the guest of honor. In addition to many high-ranking officers, an official representative from the Navy Department in Washington and George Creel, personal friend and political advisor to President Roosevelt, were present.

The crew of the German liner Columbus had just been picked up and taken into custody by the United States Coast Guard. Although the United States was not yet a belligerent, my action in the Columbus affair had caused me to be singled out as an example.

At the reception, Creel showed me a letter he had received from President Roosevelt, referring to the German submarine menace in American waters and commending my action which had led to the destruction of the Columbus. He called for similar acts of cooperation and common defense throughout the Pan-American continent and expressed the hope that I might be persuaded to further this aim by making a radio broadcast about the Nazi terror on the seas.

I readily agreed and made the broadcast with great pride and pleasure. I was convinced that the Axis powers would soon initiate hostilities against the United States, and I felt that telling my story might shake some sense into the people who were still pacifists and isolationists.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:38 am

TROTSKY AGAIN -- DEAD

ONE DAY, soon after this broadcast, while I was at work, I received a long-distance phone call from Mexico. An unfamiliar voice gruffly announced that Trotsky had been killed an hour before. The caller rang off before I had a chance to say anything. I stood there, absentmindedly holding the receiver, wondering who it was that had called, whether the news was true, and who the assassin might have been. About half an hour later, I received another call from Mexico. It was Frida. She verified the report of Trotsky's death and gave me some of the details.

Because she had met the assassin while in Paris and, furthermore, had twice invited him to her house to dine, Frida was under suspicion. Though she was again ill, the police picked her up and grilled her for twelve hours, using third-degree methods. My rage on hearing this almost wiped out of my mind the fact of Trotsky's assassination.

Returning home late that evening, I was met by a newspaperman who asked me for an interview. I consented and invited him up to my apartment. There he flashed credentials identifying him as a representative of International News Service and the United Press.

It was midsummer, and the day had been hot. Feeling tired and dirty from working since early in the morning, I asked my guest to please wait a few minutes while I cooled off under a shower.

Refreshed and in clean clothes, I rejoined him. He dived straight into the Trotsky affair, interrogating me about my relationship with and attitude toward the dead revolutionist. How was it that I had known about the killing ten minutes after it had occurred and before any news service had got wind of it? He put his questions to me in a droll and casual way but searching my face with evident concentration. His features became so puckered in his efforts to penetrate my thought that I found it difficult to keep from laughing, and I could not help giving him an inkling of my reactions.

At the end of the interview, he asked me what I intended doing after he departed. I detected no hidden meaning in his question so I answered with the simple truth, "Go to bed, I guess. I'm tired."

On hearing this, however, his scrutiny of my face became still more intense. What was he after, I wondered. Then he reiterated an earlier question --"for its special news value," as he put it. Was it true that I had been suspected of the first attack on Trotsky and was my dear friend Siqueiros the real leader behind the attack?

I answered frankly that I had absolutely no idea about Siqueiros' possible connection with the first attack; but I could certainly say for myself, that I had had none. I had been persecuted by the police as a suspect, and I had been obliged to go into hiding. But Trotsky himself, I added, in a public declaration had cleared me of any suspicion on his part. This had substantiated my original belief that the police had acted on the vague circumstantial evidence of my quarrel with Trotsky, while their real motive was anger over the Columbus expose.

On the day after the interview, a long, well-written, and dramatic article appeared in the newspapers. It ended with this flourish:

"Bukharin, one of Lenin's comrades, later executed by Stalin, once said that, while conversing with Stalin one day, he had asked Stalin what one thing pleased him more than anything else.

"To this Stalin had replied, 'To hear the news of the death of an enemy, quietly smoke my pipe, and go to bed.'

"Mr. Rivera doesn't smoke at all, but upon hearing confirmation of the death of Leon Trotsky, he took a shower, smiled valiantly, tried not to laugh, and then quietly went to sleep."

An amusing consequence of this article was that many Communists came to believe that Stalin never punished me for my criticism of him because of my presumed connection with the death of Trotsky.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:38 am

SECOND TIME WITH FRIDA

I HAD LITTLE TIME to think about the article because that very afternoon I received the bad news that Frida was extremely sick. Everything else flew out of my mind and I hastened to seek the advice of our good friend Dr. Leo Eloesser. Dr. Eloesser was very well known in California, both for his great professional skill and for the free service he gave to the poor. He advised me to arrange for Frida to come to San Francisco. He even telephoned her himself, informing her that he disapproved of the medical treatment she was receiving in Mexico.

When Frida arrived in San Francisco, she was suffering such severe pain that she could hardly move. Dr. Eloesser immediately placed her in St. Luke's Hospital where, thanks to his ministrations, Frida rapidly gained. When she was up again, Dr. Eloesser advised a change of scene as the next step in therapy. He endorsed her choice of a visit to New York, which held many pleasant associations for her and where she had many friends. The excitement of New York kept her from dwelling on her unhappiness, and when she returned to San Francisco, she seemed her old self again.

Now I asked Dr. Eloesser what he thought had been making her ill and what could be done to help her stay well. The stresses and strains of the past months had borne on her heavily, but they were gone now, except for one -- the fact of our separation. Dr. Eloesser explained to me that our separation had affected her gravely and might again weigh on her with bad results.

On hearing this, I resolved to try and persuade Frida to marry me again. Because of my love for her, I had already begged her several times to remarrv me, but without success. Now Dr. Eloesser came to my aid. Our separation, he said truthfully, was having a bad effect upon both of us.

In fairness to Frida, he warned her, that though I loved her more than ever and while I ardently wanted her back, she should realize that I was an incorrigible philanderer and in that respect would never change. Some men, he explained, were simply incapable of sexual fidelity and from his medical knowledge of me, he could definitely say that I was one of these men.

Dr. Eloesser's candor somewhat complicated my task of regaining Frida. But when she finally consented, it was with a clear appreciation of what she could expect. For her part, she asked for certain conditions: that she would provide for herself financially from the proceeds of her own work; that I would pay one half of our household expenses -- nothing more; and that we would have no sexual intercourse. In explaining this last stipulation, she said that, with the images of all my other women flashing through her mind, she couldn't possibly make love with me, for a psychological barrier would spring up as soon as I made advances.

I was so happy to have Frida back that I assented to everything, and on my fifty-fourth birthday, December 8, 1940, Frida and I were married for the second time.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:38 am

MORE POPULAR THAN WENDELL WILLKIE

AFTER THE WEDDING, I returned to my work on Treasure Island and completed the mural three months after the exposition closed. A special day was set aside to present the work to the public.

Thirty-two thousand automobiles crossed the span of the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island that day. At an average of three occupants per car, a possible total of 100,000 people came to the opening of this one-man exposition. I distinctly recall the comment of the Mayor of San Francisco as he looked over the surrounding sea of heads: "This Rivera is more popular than Wendell Willkie."

Entitled "Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and South on This Continent," the mural measured no less than eighteen hundred square feet. It was spatially my biggest work. Even so, I had originally intended to cover several times this amount of space so that the composition would encircle three walls of the City College Library, which Pflueger had designed with the idea of having me decorate it.

In this mural I projected the idea of the fusion of the genius of the South (Mexico), with its religious ardor and its gift for plastic expression, and the genius of the North (the United States), with its gift for creative mechanical expression. Symbolizing this union -- and focal point of the whole composition -- was a colossal Goddess of Life, half Indian, half machine. She would be to the American civilization of my vision what Quetzalcoatl, the great mother [sic] of Mexico, was to the Aztec people.

I depicted the South in the period before Cortes. The outstanding physical landmarks were the massive and beautiful snow-crowned Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl. Nearby were the temples of Nahuatl [sic] and Quetzalcoatl and the temple of the plumed serpent. Also portrayed were the Yaqui Deer Dancers, pottery makers, and Netzahualcoyotl, the Aztec poet-king of Texcoco who designed a flying machine.

The conquest of time and space was symbolized by a woman diving and the Golden Gate Bridge spanning San Francisco Bay. A Quetzalcoatl figure personified the continuity of Mexico's ancient culture. This idea was elsewhere expressed in a portrait of Dudley Carter, an engineer who returned to a pure expression of plastics, using only primitive materials and implements, such as a hand axe. I also painted a portrait of my wife Frida, a Mexican artist of European extraction, looking to the native traditions for her inspiration. Frida represented the vitality of these traditions in the South as Carter represented their penetration into the North.

The kinship of the Mexican and American traditions was further represented by an old Mexican planting a tree in the presence of a Mexican girl, as an American boy looked on. Nearby I painted a portrait of Paulette Goddard, holding in her hands what she called in a press release, "the tree of life and love." Representing American girlhood, she was shown in friendly contact with a Mexican man.

Just as the plastic tradition of the South penetrated into the North, the creative mechanical power of the North enriched life in the South. I depicted the greatness of the North in such engineering achievements as Shasta Dam, oil derricks, bridges set near the American peaks of Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, and in portraits of such geniuses as Ford, Morse, and Fulton, the last two of whom were artists as well as inventors. The creative force of the United States and the emancipation of women were symbolized by a woman artist, a woman architect, and a sculptress.

In the lower part of this panel, I represented two scenes from that typical art form of the North, the movies. One was from Charlie Chaplin's film The Great Dictator, showing in a tragicomic grouping Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin; the other from the Edward G. Robinson film Confessions of a Nazi Spy. Both works dramatized the fight between the democracies and the totalitarian powers. A hand rose up out of a machine as if to ward off the forces of aggression, symbolizing the American conscience reacting to the threat against freedom in the love of which the history of Mexico and the United States were united. This concept was amplified in portraits of the great liberators -- Washington, Jefferson, Hidalgo, Morelos, Bolivar, Lincoln, and John Brown.

Soon after the showing of this mural, a storm arose over the scene from The Great Dictator. As most people will recall, this movie was detested by reactionaries. The ladies of the Century Club, many of whom belonged to influential German-American families, publicly denounced the composition; and to insure my knowing their opinion, they sent a delegation of their oldest and most respectable members to berate me personally.

The local Junior Leaguers also held discussions of my mural, but they decided to approve it. They sent me a delegation of their loveliest and brightest young ladies to communicate their unanimous approval. Naturally, this group offset the ill effects of the previous one. It gave me considerable pleasure to hear one of the prettiest Junior Leaguers tell me, "We can't understand how anyone can say that your concept in this painting is anti-American. We doubt if those who object to it have ever seen it. As anyone can plainly see, it's as American as 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'"*

Before leaving California to return to Mexico, I painted two portraits, one in San Francisco and one in Santa Barbara. These were the last of my commissions in the United States up to the present time.

_______________

Notes:

* Despite this judgment and the architect's plans, the mural was never mounted in the library for which it was intended. Instead it was stored in a shed. Rivera's death on November 24, 1957, ended the controversy which continued to hang over it. On November 28th, Dr. Harold Spears, San Francisco's Superintendent of Schools, announced a meeting of the Board of Education to decide the fate of the mural. On December 17th of that year, the board voted 5 to 1 to place the mural in the lobby of a new theater to be built on the City College campus. -- G.M.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:39 am

PIN-UPS, SALOON STYLE

HOME AGAIN, I immediately began preparations for additional panels in the National Palace corridor, complementing the big fresco on the stairway. The theme of these new paintings was to be the history of Mexican agriculture from before the Conquest through the colonial era, and then from Mexico's Independence from Spain to the present.

The research and documentation this entailed was so enormous that, to keep in practice, I did some easel paintings. The most interesting of these was a series of nineteen small oils, each depicting a separate movement in one dance by the wonderful-bodied American Negro dancer Modelle Boss. In addition to several newly commissioned portraits, I also completed my painting of Paulette Goddard, which had been interrupted by my forced vacation from Mexico.

I now began the actual labor on the National Palace mural, soon completing two whole panels. At the same time I managed to find time, after my day's work, to do two other big frescoes in the new Cardiology Institute, with the history of cardiology as my subject.

On these panels, I used a scale of tones higher and brighter than any I had used before in fresco. The panel on the east wall represented cardiological knowledge in ancient times; the one on the west wall, modern developments in this science.

In both paintings, located in the main lobby of the Institute, I combined portraits of great cardiologists with notable events in the history of the study of the heart. Starting from ancient Greek, African, Chinese, and Aztec medicine, I projected a vision of future aspects of cardiology.

Another commission of these wartime years was a most unusual one: to paint a series of panels for the new Ciro's night club in the Hotel Reforma. So that these paintings would harmonize with the atmospheric qualities of the room, I developed what I call my "saloon style," a style expressing a mood of sexual freedom and exhilaration, through ensembles of form and color which marked a unique innovation in my career as a painter.

The subject matter of the Ciro's panels consisted of isolated nudes of the kind then called "pin-up" girls which, however, I painted trying to retain the old plastic traditions. Pin-ups were to be found in many amusement places where the nouveau riche made merry on war profits. They were also hung on the walls and lockers of soldiers' barracks, where women-starved boys prepared themselves for slaughter while the vulturous profiteers schemed to make more money out of their blood.

The simple meaning of these paintings has not yet been really understood, certainly not by the critics who made solemn -- and to me, amusing -- judgments on them. I did these paintings with a feeling of simple, sensuous joy. The women I portrayed at Ciro's were to be appreciated as pin-ups -- nothing more.

My models were not professional artists' models. On the contrary, they belonged to the wealthiest families in Mexico. And they all confessed to the same reason for wanting to be painted nude on a barroom wall -- a desire to be eternally naked in an excitingly lit room where men would uninhibitedly lust for them. Conscious of the passion her body aroused, each would always feel desirable, despite the changes and finally, the ravages of age. In my oils, she would remain forever youthful.

After completing this assignment, I was offered a job as art consultant by a big Mexican movie company. Despite the temptingly large salary, I rejected the offer, sensing that the job would contribute nothing to my growth as an artist.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:39 am

A HOME FOR MY IDOLS

In 1945 I began to feel that I was nearing the end of my life's adventure. My father had died at seventy-two, my mother at sixty-two, both of cancer. If, as I believed, heredity determined one's life span, I must die of cancer soon, for I was nearing sixty. Fortunately, my theory proved mistaken.

My mind was preoccupied with two things which I wanted to do before the end. One was to paint Tenochtitlan, the ancient capital of Mexico, as it had originally been before the barbaric Spanish invaders destroyed its beauty. After a year and a half of preparation, I carried out this dream. One could not love a subject so deeply without painting it well, and I regard my painted vision of the ancient site as one of my masterpieces.

The second dream, one of thirty-five years standing, was renewed by the destruction wreaked everywhere by the war. It was to build a home for my anthropological collection, which I had started to assemble on my first return to Mexico in 1910.

So while the bombs menaced our very lives and made painting seem a thing of insignificance, Frida and I started a strange kind of ranch. Here we planned to raise our own food staples, milk, honey, and vegetables, while we prepared to build our museum. In the first weeks, we erected a stable for our animals.

The site we chose was near Coyoacan, right on top of a lava bed. Cactus sprang up profusely from the crevices in the stones. Nature had landscaped the area as if for our purpose, and I decided that our house should be in harmony with her work. Accordingly, we cut our stone from the basalt indigenous to the region. The structure would rise from the earth like an extension of its natural surface.

I designed the building in a composite of Aztec, Mayan, and "Rivera Traditional" styles. The squarely built exterior resembles an ancient Mexican pyramid of the pre-Cortes period.

The main floor is the museum where my sculptures of this period are displayed. The rooms here wind and open into each other like those of a labyrinth. Walled in unfaced stone, they are gray and dank. On the ceilings are white stone mosaics, mainly abstract in form. One of the mosaics, however, is of the rain god, Tlaloc, whose face I represented as a formation of two wriggling snakes.

The upper section is still to be completed. I intended it as my studio, where I could create my own sculptures to adorn the outside walls. But lack of time and money have so far prevented me from carrying out this part of my plan.

Surmounting all is a tower representing the god of air and open on all sides to the raw, cool drafts of mountain air. The cool and stony aspect of the place gives one the impression of being in an underground temple.

During the war, this building was "home" for Frida and me. After the war, it was converted exclusively into a home for my idols. Guided by Dr. Alfonso Caso, Mexico's leading anthropologist, I passed many wonderful hours placing my statues in chronological order in the different rooms of the building. Dr. Caso and his associates were enthusiastic about my collection, declaring that while my dating of some pieces might be in error, I had shown an uncanny instinct for what was authentic and important. They rated the collection among the best in the world.

This venture, however, has almost impoverished me. The cost of maintaining the museum has been about $125 a week. With this outlay added to the $300 a month I gave Frida for household expenses for our home in Coyoacan and the forty dollars a month I paid for my daughter Ruth's college tuition, I was left with hardly enough change to buy the daily newspaper.

People are under the impression that I am wealthy because I have sometimes paid as much as $250 for a single idol. But when I have made such a purchase, I have often, as a result, had to scrimp on necessities. Frida used to scold me sometimes for not keeping enough money to buy such prosaic things as underwear. But my idols have more than compensated me for their expense. Whenever I feel disgusted with some painting I have done, I have only to look at them and suddenly I feel good again.

By now, I have already spent more than fifty thousand dollars on the museum and still it is not complete. Most visitors are astonished to hear this low figure. However, I did so much myself: the architectural designs, the engineering, and even the overseeing of the actual work, thus cutting the cost of construction considerably.

Since beginning the project, I have put into it literally every penny I have earned above modest living expenses. Work on the museum halted during Frida's illnesses, when the heavy medical and hospital bills virtually bankrupted me. However, when Frida was well and earning money from her own paintings, she would refuse to accept any money from me, and I would go on idol-buying sprees. All in all I have spent about one hundred thousand dollars on my collection -- apart from the building itself.

I calculate that another forty thousand dollars will be required to complete the building. My plan is to give the museum to the state, provided it appropriates the money needed to finish it. My only other stipulation will be that I be allowed to supervise the final construction. If I cannot arrange a mutually satisfactory agreement with the authorities, I shall dynamite the building with my own hands rather than have it put to some stupid use at odds with the purpose for which I designed it.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:40 am

A SUNDAY IN ALAMEDA PARK

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IN 1947 I was commissioned to do a mural in the main dining room of the new Hotel del Prado. The theme I chose was "A Sunday in Alameda Park." In the painting, I attempted to combine my own childhood experiences in the park with scenes and personages associated with its history. Though a public park, the Alameda, during my childhood in the regime of the dictator Diaz, was actually restricted to the "better classes." The poor were kept out by the police. I had more than once seen these unfortunates being hustled past the gate, and these scenes, which had incited my first anti-Diaz feelings, remained vivid in my memory. I had gone to the Alameda with my family and listened to the band concerts on the pleasant green. Chairs could be rented at twenty-five and fifty centavos, prices which my father, himself not a poor man, found exorbitant.

Under the rule of Cartes, in the very earliest colonial days, the monastery of San Diego had stood at the west end of the park. The structure included a crematorium where victims of the Inquisition were burned alive. But the stench of decomposing human flesh became intolerable to the residents of the surrounding fashionable streets, and the Church had been obliged to move its holy incinerator elsewhere. In 1848, the victorious United States army had camped in the park after the treacherous General Santa Ana, sabotaging the Mexican defense plan, had handed over the country to the invaders on a silver platter. Alameda Park had also been the scene of historical political demonstrations, among them the one organized by Ignacio Ramirez, later a minister in the Juarez government, to rouse the Mexican people to arms against the French invaders seeking to install Maximilian as a puppet emperor in 1862.

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"Sunday Dream," as my mural was called, utilized such personal and national memories. In the center stood I, a boy of ten, a frog and a snake peering out of my jacket pockets. Beside me, a skeleton in woman's dress held my hand, and my boyhood master, Jose Guadalupe Posada, famous for his drawings of skeletons, held her other hand under his arm. Frida, as a grown woman, stood behind me, her hand on my shoulder. On the right side of the mural, I also painted Lupe Marin beside our two adult daughters. Above them were portraits of historical figures representing the social classes of Mexico.

One of the key scenes in my "Dream" was a portrait of Madero triumphantly proclaiming the success of the revolution against Diaz and speaking out against the corruption of the new bourgeoisie to a crowd in the park. On one side of the mural, I painted Cortes, his hands dripping with blood, beside figures representing the Inquisition at its work of torture and death; the traitor Santa Ana, surrendering the keys of Texas; and above him, the people's hero, Benito Juarez, holding up the liberating constitution of 1857.

Another of my portrayals was an average President of the Republic, with a composite executive face in which some saw the features of Calles, some recognized those of Avila Camacho and others, including that gentleman himself, those of Miguel Aleman. The partisans of these politicos, feeling that I had caricatured the physiognomies of their heroes, vilified the mural.

But the chief target of its antagonists was a brief quotation from a recorded statement by Ignacio Ramirez, which I reproduced on a scrap of paper held in his hand. It occupied a space no more than two inches high and read: "God does not exist."

The statement was not my own, as many people thought, but had actually been made by Ramirez when a student before an assembly of students and faculty at the Academy of Letran, located at the south side of the park. The academy was then headed by Father Lacunza, later Archbishop of all Mexico. Ramirez had taken the position that mankind could progress only through mutual aid, and this rendered the idea of supernatural aid an absurdity.

The faculty of the academy, most of them priests, had sought to prevent Ramirez from speaking. But Father Lacunza had overruled them in the interest of freedom of thought and expression. He had allowed Ramirez to deliver his address, which caused wild excitement in the audience.

Father Lacunza had gone further. He called for a unanimous vote to enroll Ramirez as a regular member of the academy, maintaining that Ramirez deserved this honor for the brilliant logic and scientific knowledge he had displayed. "Besides," he said, "God himself has permitted the birth and growth of a creature endowed with such a superior mentality. All-powerful God, if he wished, could have confounded the boy's dialectical prowess."

Ramirez had delivered the lecture, Father Lacunza informed the audience, from notes made on scraps of paper, because he had been too poor to afford fresh paper. Consequently, the torn scrap Ramirez held in his hand in my mural, as well as the declaration itself, had historical authority.

If certain people had not been deliberately seeking to provoke a scandal, this detail would have aroused little notice. It had been on the wall in the preliminary charcoal sketch for over six months with out any objection being raised.

The chief agitator in the attack on "Sunday Dream" was Torres Rivas, Manager of the del Prado Hotel. Like Pani before him, he dreamed of becoming a Mexican Rockefeller. Scion of a formerly wealthy family which had lost its money with the downfall of Diaz, Rivas sought a way of cashing in on his pretentious but otherwise worthless titles, which were almost his sole possessions.

Rivas did not wield enough power to achieve his dream alone, but he found a powerful ally in Rogerio de la Selva, President Aleman's personal secretary and commander of Aleman's private guard. Selva discerned his employer's features in my composite presidential portrait, and acted, he said, to protect the President's dignity. He was aided by corrupt journalists whom he used as his mouthpieces.

On his authority as Aleman's secretary, Selva mobilized a private civilian army of the student sons of the nouveau riche. These privileged hoodlums entered his service as a means of advancing in their political careers. In varying disguises, including the regalia of Jesuits and Knights of Columbus, they organized demonstrations against my painting and me, chanting through the streets:

"Does He exist?"

"Long live Jesus Christ!"

"Death to Diego Rivera!"

Some went so far as to throw stones through the windows of my studio in San Angel and my home in Coyoacan.

Taking advantage of the uproar, Rivas used this occasion to ask the Archbishop of Mexico to confer his benediction upon the new hotel building and upon my mural. As Rivas anticipated, the Archbishop refused and Rivas added this fact to his argument.

A nephew of Rivas, seeking a thrill and who knows what favors from his uncle, plotted more direct action. With three schoolmates belonging to Los Conejos, a secret fraternity of clerical and reactionary students, he stole into the hotel dining room and scratched out Ramirez's provocative quotation.

At the time, friends of mine and I were attending a banquet given to honor Frances Toor for her excellent writings on Mexican folklore, and Fernando Gamboa, head of the city's Plastic Arts Department, for his work in collecting valuable Mexican paintings.

When news of the vandalism was brought to me at the banquet, I got up at once to protect my mural. My friends, feeling that the best answer to the act was a protest demonstration right in the Prado, followed me into the street.

Senor Rivas' nephew's action constituted more than an attack upon my artistic property rights. At that time, together with Orozco and Siqueiros, I was an executive director of the board of the Fine Arts Department. An important part of the board's responsibility was to protect painters and their works from unwarranted attacks. Consequently, this wanton defacement of my mural was symbolically an outrage against the rights of every artist.

The cream of Mexico's intellectuals, young and old, marched into the Prado in a picturesque protest demonstration. While I set to work restoring Ramirez's quotation, Orozco, Siqueiros, and the bitterly eloquent popular writer Revueltas harangued the startled hotel guests.

The uniformed police did not dare to intervene, but some plain-clothesmen were sent over to watch us. They remained motionless, probably having been instructed to do nothing unless there was violence.

"Operation Schoolboy"' having failed, a government-employed carpenter was called upon a few days later to repeat the mutilation. This poor devil was given the alternative of carrying out the unpleasant assignment or losing his job. As he was instructed, he scratched out not only the offending quotation but also my face in the painting.

Again I repaired the damage.

In the final analysis, every official concerned in this affair failed in his obligation not only to enforce the established laws applying to the protection of artistic property and freedom of expression, but in maintaining official dignity and authority. The two separate acts of vandalism directly challenged the Fine Arts Department, the Ministry of Public Education, the Attorney General, and the President of the Republic. Yet not a single public official showed the courage to act as his duty required. Instead there were apologies and pretexts, and a few officials tried to buy me off with well-paying commissions to paint portraits of the wives of prominent Mexicans. An architect who held an important office in the Ministry of Public Health proposed that I change Ramirez's "God does not exist" to the single word "Confidence." I refused to permit this ridiculous and craven travesty upon historical truth.

For a long time after the two assaults, the newspapers filled columns with scurrilous attacks upon me. The fact that I wasn't lynched by an overstimulated mob was assuredly no fault of theirs. They tried their best.

The hotel owners, balked in their vandalism, finally hit upon a safe, typically hypocritical "moderate" solution; they covered my mural with a movable screen. Made of white nylon, the screen could be pulled aside for any distinguished guests who desired to see the notorious painting. And, as it turned out, these guests invariably gave large tips to the hotel guides -- a boon to employer-employee relations.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:42 am

CARDINAL DOUGHERTY DEFENDS

Report of the Grand Jury Into Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy in the Philadelphia Archdiocese


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A FEW MONTHS after this "solution" has been effected, Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, Archbishop of Philadelphia, came to Mexico City, accompanied by about forty other distinguished Catholics who were making a pilgrimage to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe. Cardinal Dougherty took lodgings in the Hotel del Prado. One of his first requests, after checking into his room, was to see my mural. He apparently liked it so much that he returned to look at it fourteen times afterwards.

Upon learning of the Cardinal's repeated visits to my mural, the stockholders of the hotel began to feel extremely uneasy. Meeting together to discuss this unforeseen development, they decided to ask the Cardinal to join them in viewing the mural once more. What this was supposed to accomplish, I never could figure out.

The Cardinal replied that he would be happy to see the work again.

Image

My esteemed friend Carlos Obregon, architect of the Prado, witnessed what transpired between the Cardinal and the owners in the hotel's dining room that day. I first heard the story from Carlos Chavez, General Director of the Fine Arts Department, who had heard it from Obregon. Afterwards Obregon himself confirmed what Chavez had told me. In addition, two participants, a hotel executive and one of the stockholders, recounted their observations to me. Each of these reports agreed with the others.

After the screen was removed, the Cardinal turned to his hosts and thanked them for the opportunity to study my mural once more. "I like this Rivera painting very much," he said. "I have always had a special taste for mural paintings. Why? Before the Good Lord graced me with the inspiration to become His servant, I had dreamed of becoming a mural painter myself. After having attained my priesthood, I usually spent my vacations in travel, seeking out, studying, and enjoying murals. Therefore it is no wonder that I am familiar with the work of Rivera both here and in the United States, and I must tell you how much I have always appreciated and revered his art.

"I would also like to say that not only do I consider this mural the best Rivera has done but that it is also one of my favorites among all murals. In fact, I think it is as good as any mural I have ever seen anywhere in the world. I also happen to know the writings of Senor Ramirez and have admired the truly Catholic mind of Father Lacunza, head of the old Academy of Letran. He was not only a beacon of the Mexican Church but of the entire world of Catholicism where 'Catholic' retains its meanings of 'universal' and 'tolerant.'"

At this, panic and consternation showed in the faces of the stockholders and especially on that of the Prado's manager, Torres Rivas, who saw his prestige plummeting. In a desperate effort to rehabilitate himself, he risked interrupting the Cardinal.

"But Your Eminence, His Eminence, the illustrious Archbishop of Mexico, had denied his benediction to the hotel because of the blasphemous phrase painted by Rivera into his mural."

The Cardinal stopped Rivas with a motion of his hand. "In the first place, the sentence quoted by Senor Rivera is a historical quotation and entirely unrelated to the Church itself. In the second, it alludes to an incident which only proves how open the mind of a fine man of the Mexican Church was as long ago as 1836; of course I refer to Father Lacunza. The defamatory acts and attitudes shown in the recent attacks upon this work of art, created by a man receiving his talent directly from God Himself, are in my opinion not only a violation of the most important concepts of the Catholic Church, but in opposition to the policies laid down by His Holiness, the Pope.

"You perhaps know that in augmentation of my position as a Catholic Archbishop, under the guiding jurisdiction of His Holiness, I have also been appointed by the College of Cardinals as Chief Director of the Santo Oficio, the supreme theological body of the Church. You can easily understand that I am well versed in many matters concerning the Church and its ministers. The situation which followed upon Rivera's execution of this work is deplorable. In my opinion, the Archbishop of Mexico allowed himself to be used in a plot, just as the devil tempted Our Lord Jesus Christ centuries ago.

"I am also aware, Senor Rivas, of the part you personally played in this ill-conceived affair, bringing not only yourself but many other Catholics of good faith to act in a manner which departs from the meritorious standards ordained by His Holiness, the Pope. Those who co-operated with you in desecrating a worthy work of art do not deserve the right to call themselves Catholics, and the blame falls upon you. You have also instigated people outside the realm of the Catholic Church to commit the same desecration.

"For these reasons, Senor Rivas, despite your publicized protestations that you are a good Catholic, I must inform you that absolution for your act requires much penance on your part. What you have done not only maligns the good name of the Catholic Church but is disruptive of civilized life in general."

When the Cardinal had done speaking, Torres Rivas was in tears. He sat down quietly in a chair, his head bowed, covering his face with trembling hands.

Before leaving, the Cardinal turned briefly to the other men in the group. "Gentlemen, I refuse to offer any opinion regarding the matter of the benediction of this building simply because I have great respect for the Archbishop of Mexico. In my country, however, no priest of Christ has ever given his benediction to any commercial building or enterprise."

Whereupon Cardinal Dougherty nodded, signifying his intention to depart. His hosts, shocked into speechlessness, silently followed him out of the room.

One thing more. Many Mexican newspapers and magazines were given this story but not one dared to publish it, probably because it might place me in a favorable light. United States press correspondents in Mexico similarly failed to consider it "news."
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:42 am

AFTERMATHS

AS A CURIOUS AFTERMATH of the Prado affair, a Mexican representative of a well-known American private detective agency, mainly employed in guarding the lives and property of millionaires from the States, laid a unique proposition before me. He approached me indirectly through my dear friend Dr. Arenal (sister-in-law of Siqueiros), who relayed the offer. This gentleman declared that his firm would give me five years of complete protection for myself, my paintings, and my property, in return for permitting my name to be listed as one of his company's clients.

To Dr. Arenal, he explained that he was making his proposal through her because his organization had ascertained that between her and myself there existed a high degree of mutual felicity. Its reports about our relations, in fact, indicated that no one else at the time was dearer to me than she. Calmly ignoring this last, Dr. Arenal refused to broach the matter with me unless she learned the true motives for the company's generosity.

Her visitor then replied, "We have estimated that the publicity received by the del Prado Hotel through Senor Rivera's mural was worth $3,230,000 at prevailing space rates. This is about half the value of the entire plant together with all its furnishings. We are convinced that to have Rivera as one of our clients would be a publicity asset. We have asked you to be our intermediary as a way of proving to Senor Rivera that we are accurately informed about his private life. Thus," the man concluded smugly, "he will have a free demonstration of our efficiency."

When Dr. Arenal relayed the offer to me, I rejected it at once. The relationship between Dr. Arenal and myself by which he "proved" his agency's merit was simply nonexistent. I wish it had been otherwise. Dr. Arenal is an intelligent, charming, and beautiful woman, but alas, she has never been to me what her "well-informed" visitor declared.

The Fine Arts Institute, which had done nothing to protect my rights in the fracas over "Sunday Dream," meanwhile organized a retrospective exhibit of the work I had done in the last fifty years. The idea was hit upon, I am sure, as a means of pacifying and compensating me. The directors of the Institute may also have expected that, because of changing art trends, the show would prove a flop. If so, they must have been very much disappointed. From the evening of the premiere to its close, a continuous stream of enthusiastic viewers literally jammed the Palace of Fine Arts, which housed the show.

While I was preparing for the exhibition, I gave Frida another bad time. I had fallen in love with the movie actress Maria Felix. I not only planned to center my show around a life-sized portrait I had painted of her, but I took steps toward a second divorce. Frida suffered deeply. And needlessly, as it turned out. For Maria not only refused to marry me, but for reasons of her own, having nothing to do with our personal relations, refused to lend me her portrait for the exhibit.

So I was left with my injured feelings, one blank wall, and a wife who was miserable and hurt. Within a short space of time, however, everything was well again. I got over my rejection by Maria. Frida was happy to have me back, and I was grateful to be married to her still. And the painting I used in place of Maria's portrait attracted far more attention than the latter would have. It was a tremendous, provocative, life-size nude of the poetess Pita Amor.

In all respects, the show which opened in the summer of 1949 was a huge success. Collectors from all over the world loaned their Riveras, including, oddly enough, Nelson Rockefeller and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. It was gratifying to think that in spite of our past differences, the echoes of which had reverberated around the globe, the Rockefellers still considered me an artist worthy of attention.

Ironically, the President Aleman of my heretofore objectionable composite portrait was swayed by the overwhelming public ovation to declare over the radio that I was a true artistic genius! I found this evaluation by Mexico's chief executive most amusing -- a farcical denouement of the upheaval which had preceded it. Shortly afterward, the Mexican Government presented me with the National Prize for Plastic Art.

As for my "blasphemous" mural, its status, until recently, remained quo. It stood in its original place on the wall of the Prado dining room screened off from the general public every day except Sunday, when it was permitted to be viewed from 10:30 A.M. until noon. Then, and only then, those who wished could study the work at their leisure. Perhaps the rule obtains; I do not know.

In 1956, of my own free will, I decided to change Ramirez's objectionable phrase, as a minor contribution to the cause of international and national unity (97 per cent of my countrymen are Catholic). I ordered "God does not exist" be replaced with the phrase, "Conference of Letran, 1836." I felt that in the intervening eight years time I had proved my position. I posted my wishes in the matter from the Soviet Union during my second visit to that country.
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Re: Diego Rivera: My Art, My Life. An Autobiography With Gla

Postby admin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:42 am

UNDERWATER

EARLY IN 1951 I received the most fascinating commission of my career -- to paint not only my usual type of mural but one which would also endure though submerged under clear water. Unfortunately, I did not succeed in developing paints that would resist the action of water.

At the bottom of a large reservoir, I painted varieties of protoplasmic life. These evolve, on the lower portion of the perpendicular walls, into more complex forms, culminating in a nude man and woman, the final creations of "Water, Origin of Life." As part of this mural, I represented the workers, architects, and engineers who built the new Lerma Water Supply System, which included this reservoir. I was very proud of this creation. But in the spring of 1956, the project engineer noted that the colors were deteriorating. I don't know how long it will be before sediment and flowing water obliterate the mural completely. I feel unhappy over the prospect of its fading away.

As another part of the decoration of these waterworks, I did a vast horizontal mural in relief of an ancient Aztec god emerging from the slime. I was so pleased with this combination of painting and sculpture that I used the technique again in my decorations for the stadium in University City. The chief figures in this relief mural were a man and a woman racing with a white dove to a child, symbolizing the development of the physique for the purposes of peace.
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