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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

Diego Rivera's Man at the Crossroads

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;69(4):337-338. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.102.
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On Wednesday, May 10, 1933, Diego Rivera made front-page news in the New York Times: “ROCKEFELLERS BAN LENIN IN RCA MURAL AND DISMISS RIVERA.” The night before, Rivera (1886-1957) was ordered to stop painting his commissioned mural, Man at the Crossroads (epigraph), in the main entrance lobby of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) building in Rockefeller Center. He was paid the $14 000 remainder of his $21 000 fee and dismissed. Within an hour, the mural was covered over by new canvas panels. Earlier that week, Rivera sought permission for a professional photograph to be taken of his work in progress. Permission was denied. Sensing trouble, Rivera's wife, Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), alerted Rivera's assistant, Lucienne Bloch (1909-1999). A diversion was created to allow time for Bloch, the daughter of noted conductor Ernest Bloch and a talented photographer, to quickly take photos of the large mural and close-ups of the area showing Lenin (epigraph) using her handheld Leica (cover, thumbnail).

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Cover: Lucienne Bloch (1909-1999), Swiss American. Photograph close-up of Lenin, Rockefeller Center mural fresco Man at the Crossroads, by Diego Rivera. New York City, NY. 1933. Courtesy Old Stage Studios.

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Figure 1. Diego Rivera (1886-1957), Mexican. Man, Controller of the Universe, 1934. Fresco, 485 × 1145 cm. Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, D.F. Mexico. Photo credit: Schalkwijk/Art Resource, New York, NY. © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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Figure 2.Man, Controller of the Universe. 1934. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin uniting men detail from fresco, 485 × 1145 cm. Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, D.F. Mexico. Photo credit: The Art Archive at Art Resource, New York. © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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