Insider in Mural Controversy Talks Today at Fogg-English A Program
Ben Shahn, formerly Diego Rivera's assistant, will present the "true story which has never been told before" about the Rockefeller Center mural controversy at 4:30 p.m. today in the New Lecture Hall. The lecture is sponsored by the English A Department.
This controversy, which in 1922 brought up questions of artistic freedom, is one of the discussion topics in English A's new reading book. Fogg Museum first decided to supplement the English department's work with an exhibit of Rivera' work. The Museum secured and put on exhibition for the first time the actual sketch of the mural submitted by Diego Rivera to Mrs. Rockefeller. It also includes one of the few photographs in existence of the actual mural before it was destroyed.
When Shahn heard that Harvard was gathering this exhibit he requested to speak and present his story. He was with Rivera throughout the entire Rockefeller Center dispute.
The exhibit points up the key part of the controversy. The original drawing contains no picture of Lenin but merely an abstract picture of a leader of people. In the completed mural, this abstract face is clearly that of Lenin. Rockefeller's representatives said that this face made the mural unacceptable; Rivera said it was a basic part of the mural and was representative of its whole tone.
The lecture is particularly for English A and fine arts students but is open to any student.