Upon seeing “Man at the Crossroads”, I think that the removal of it was the right decision and ultimately Diego Rivera is at fault. He blatantly painted an offensive image of John D. Rockefeller, an active supporter of the Prohibition and a Baptist, drinking gin and surrounded with prostitutes in low cut shirts. As a further insult, Rivera also included a picture of Lenin. This was extremely problematic because Rivera essentially portrayed the Rockefellers, a prominent American family, as if they were against the Prohibition and in support of communism during the Red Scare. Personally, I’m not against artists using their work to depict their political views but it was wrong for Rivera to create a false image of his employer. In addition, he tricked the Rockefellers by having them approve a “fake” sketch of the mural, only for him to completely change it once he started working. But, I thought that it was interesting for Rivera to blatantly include images of alcohol and communism without even attempting to hide it. It makes it seem as though he was purposely trying to provoke Rockefeller and it makes me wonder whether Rivera actually thought he would get away with it.
Besides maintaining the image of the Rockefellers, I feel that if Rivera’s mural weren’t taken down it would ruin the majestic atmosphere of Rockefeller Center. After all, it serves as a symbol of the legacy of the Rockefellers and essentially a reminder of the possibilities of the American dream. It represents their idealized self and allows them to escape the realities of life, suffering and hardships. Here, in Rockefeller Center they can forget their everyday life and bask in the fruits of success. But, having a picture of the Rockefellers drinking gin and supporting communism would tarnish this image of perfection and replace it with one of a lawbreaker and a rebel.
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