A woman looks at Mexican painter Diego Rivera’s ‘Indian Warrior’ displayed during a preview at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, November 8, 2011.
In 1931, the fledgling Museum of Modern Art chose Mexican muralist Diego Rivera for its second major show, inviting him to New York to create “portable” murals onsite. Now, some of the works he created in six feverish weeks are again on display at MoMA.
They are aggressive and vibrant, testimony to Rivera’s fascination with Mexican history and his loathing of capitalism.
A communist, Rivera created fiercely political works picturing Mexico’s colonial past and the struggles of indigenous peoples. Indian Warrior, for example, illustrates his anger at Spain’s conquest of Mexico in the 1600s. An Aztec warrior wearing a fearsome Jaguar costume uses a stone knife to cut down a conquistador who lies dead, still encased in his armor.
Rivera also painted scenes of what he saw as capitalist oppression in the U.S. and the struggle for workers’ rights in a rapidly industrializing America.
“He made pictures that made us think about what our society is like, about labor and class, and the inequities of our modern world,” MoMA curator Leah Dickerman said. She points to the mural, Frozen Assets, a depiction of New York City, in 1931, in the depths of the Great Depression. The mural has several tiers, with New York’s new skyscrapers towering above what looks like a subterranean morgue.
“In the top tier of the painting, you see all the most recent landmarks of modern architecture,” Dickerman says. “Under that, you see the shelter for unemployed men that was on East 25th Street. Then under that, you see a bank vault where the city’s richest citizens are waiting to count their assets.”
Rivera was already famous when he and his wife, artist Frida Kahlo, arrived in New York for the MoMA commission. Born in 1886, Rivera had studied painting in Europe in the early 1900s.
There he developed, then abandoned, an interest in Cubism in favor of realistic frescoes – paintings on wet plaster – focusing on Mexico’s revolution. At the time, murals were Mexico’s leading public art form.
The show also includes watercolors from a visit to Moscow in 1927-1928, where Rivera celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Soviet revolution.
Visitors have packed the show since its opening in November. Art historian Anna Indych-Lopez said that’s because Rivera’s message remains relevant.
“This work speaks to people today for obvious reasons,” she said. “If we just open up the newspaper and look at the events surrounding Occupy Wall Street, these are issues that have not gone away.”
“What he was showing, really, was his interest in the uprising of the common people,” says visitor Lenore Zarin. Paula Santos, also visiting the show, said as a Mexican American, she was touched by Rivera’s dedication to “people you don’t usually see, indigenous people.” “It was really poignant for me,” she said, “that even today, he could have painted those frescoes.”
The MoMA show also includes a sketch for one of Rivera’s most famous works, although few people ever saw it.
Man at the Crossroads was the title of the work commissioned in 1933 by New York’s Rockefeller family, for one of its Rockefeller Center buildings. It was supposed to illustrate the progress of “civilization” on a grand scale. But a controversy erupted in the press over Rivera’s insertion of a small portrait of Lenin. The artist refused the Rockefellers’ request to remove it, and he was dismissed. The mural was covered up and later destroyed.
Indych-Lopez, an expert on Rivera, said the artist’s radical politics, typical among Mexican artists of the time, was indulged by his patrons, including MoMA founder Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.
Indych-Lopez said the management of Rockefeller Center, charged with leasing office space in the building, strongly objected.
“They believed they had to make a public stand against this very overt visualization of communism, the fact that this was a public gesture that would have faced workers entering into the heart of capitalism day in and day out,” she said.
Dickerman and Indych-Lopez also cite reports that the Rockefellers were offended by the inclusion of a portrait that appeared to be the teetotaling patriarch, John D. Rockefeller, holding a drink, during the period of prohibition.
In the ensuing furor, Rivera lost a commission to paint at the World’s Fair in Chicago. Undaunted, he returned to Mexico City and created an almost identical mural for the Palacio De Bellas Artes.
The show at MoMA is on view until mid-May 2012.
Twenty-five years later, Sir Ken Robinson’s efforts on creating creative futures through education reform resonates in educational political discourse.
“The report develops five themes:
The Challenge for Education: Education faces challenges that are without precedent. Meeting these challenges calls for new priorities in education, Introduction and Summary NACCCE report 6 including a much stronger emphasis on creative and cultural education and a new balance in teaching and in the curriculum.
Creative Potential: Creativity is possible in all areas of human activity, including the arts, sciences, at work at play and in all other areas of daily life. All people have creative abilities and we all have them differently. When individuals find their creative strengths, it can have an enormous impact on self-esteem and on overall achievement.
Freedom and Control: Creativity is not simply a matter of letting go. Serious creative achievement relies on knowledge, control of materials and command of ideas. Creative education involves a balance between teaching knowledge and skills, and encouraging innovation. In these ways, creative development is directly related to cultural education.
Cultural Understanding: Young people are living in times of rapid cultural change and of increasing cultural diversity. Education must enable them to understand and respect different cultural values and traditions and the processes of cultural change and development. The engine of cultural change is the human capacity for creative thought and action.
Systemic Approach: one that addresses the balance of the school curriculum, teaching methods and assessment, how schools connect with other people and resources and the training and development of teachers and others.”
The UK National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education report makes recommendations for provision in formal and informal education for young people to the age of 16: that is, to the end of compulsory education. Their inquiry coincided with the Government’s planned review of the National Curriculum.
The first of several reports and books includes specific recommendations on the National Curriculum. It also includes recommendations for a wider national strategy for creative and cultural education. I believe this is an insightful report and guided for art education association national and international standards and core curriculum objectives to be engaged within the k-12 core curricula.All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education
In 1998, Ken Robinson led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy forthe UK Government bringing together leading business people, scientists, artists and educators. His report, All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published to huge acclaim. The London Times said: ‘This report raises some of the most important issues facing business in the 21st century. It should have every CEO and human resources director thumping the table and demanding action.’
A downloadable PDF version of the All Our Futures is available: Here
Research offers industry-specific, regional, and demographic data on the 2.1 million artists working in the U.S.
For immediate release October 28, 2011Contact: Sally Gifford 202-682-5606 firstname.lastname@example.org
There are 2.1 million artists in the United States workforce, and a large portion of them — designers — contribute to industries whose products Americans use every day, according to new research from the National Endowment for the Arts. Artists and Arts Workers in the United States offers the first combined analysis of artists and industries, state and metro employment rates, and new demographic information such as age, education levels, income, ethnicity, and other social characteristics.
This latest report builds on earlier NEA research — Artists in the Workforce: 1990 – 2005 — which identified key traits that differentiated artists from other U.S. workers. That report found artists to be entrepreneurial (more likely to be self-employed) and more educated than the workforce at large. This latest research confirms those earlier conclusions and shares new data about the working artist. Among the key findings:
There are 2.1 million artists in the United States. They make up 1.4 percent of the total workforce, and 6.9 percent of the professional workforce (artists are classified as “professional workers”).More than one-third of artists in the survey (39 percent, or 829,000 workers) are designers (such as graphic, commercial, and industrial designers, fashion designers, floral designers, interior designers, merchandise displayers, and set and exhibit designers.) Performing artists make up the next largest category (17 percent). In addition, each of the following occupations make up 10 percent of all artists: fine artists, art directors, and animators; writers and authors; and architects. Between 2000 and 2009, the artist labor force increased by 5 percent while the civilian labor force grew by nearly 8 percent. (i)
Artists work in many industries and job sectorsMore than half of artists (54 percent) work in the private, for-profit sector; 35 percent are self-employed. One in three artists (34 percent) works in the “professional, scientific, and technical services” sector, which includes architectural and design firms, advertising agencies and consulting firms, and companies offering computer or photographic services. One in five (18 percent) of artists work in the “performing arts, spectator sports, and independent artists” category, including more than half (53 percent) of all musicians. Fourteen percent of all artists (73 percent of producers and directors, 23 percent of actors, and 20 percent of writers and authors) work in “information” industries, such as the motion picture, video, and broadcasting industries, or newspaper, book, or directory publishing.
Wage gaps persistWomen artists earn $0.81 cents for every dollar earned by men artists. This gap is similar to that in the overall labor force (where women earn $0.80 cents for every dollar earned by men); professional women earn even less — $0.74 for every dollar earned by professional men. (ii) Artists’ median wages and salaries ($43,000 in 2009) are higher than the median for the whole labor force ($39,000). Yet artists as a whole earn far less than the median wage of the “professional” category of workers ($54,000), to which they belong. Architects make the highest median wage ($63,000), while workers who are classified as “other entertainers” had the lowest ($25,000). (iii)
Artist demographicsArtists are less socioeconomically and demographically diverse than the total U.S. workforce, yet diversity levels vary across individual artist occupations. While artists as a whole are less likely to be foreign-born than other U.S. workers, some of the highest-paid artist occupations have the highest rates of foreign-born workers. Architects and designers are the most likely to be foreign-born (14 to 16 percent, roughly the same as the U.S. workforce). Artists work at home at more than three times the rate of the total labor force (15 versus 4 percent). Artists are just as likely to be married as the general workforce (53-54 percent).
Artist-heavy states and regionsNew York and California have the highest numbers of artists in the U.S. Oregon and Vermont have 20 percent greater-than-average numbers of artists, with writers and authors especially prominent. Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Washington, and Rhode Island outdo the national average. In Tennessee, 22 percent of all working artists are musicians. Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have the most workers in the book publishing industry. (iv) The San Jose, California metro area has the highest level of employment in industrial design services — more than 3 times the U.S. average. (v)
The NEA analyzed data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, a new annual survey tool that complements the decennial census. The note analyzed 11 distinct artist occupations: actors, announcers, architects, dancers and choreographers, designers, fine artists, art directors and animators, musicians, other entertainers, photographers, producers and directors, and writers and authors. The NEA used a five-year data set (2005-2009) to get a large enough sample size for a thorough analysis. New data on employment patterns and freelance artists reveal more accurate totals for this mobile, entrepreneurial group of workers.
About NEA Research
The NEA is the only federal agency to conduct long-term and detailed analyses of arts participation. For more than 30 years, the NEA Office of Research & Analysis has produced periodic research reports, brochures, and notes on significant topics affecting artists and arts organizations, often in partnership with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Recently, the NEA announced a new research grant opportunity to foster more research on the value and impact of the arts on the nation. The NEA is committed to extending the conversation about arts participation by making data available to both the research community and the public at large.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at www.arts.gov
i. Bureau of Labor Statistics ii. These calculations are for full-year/full-time work only. iii. Annual wages and salaries are provided only for full-time, full-year artists, based on 2009 estimates.. iv. From the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which tracks employment by industry, not occupation. This data includes both artists and other workers in that industry. v. Ibid.
I have many affairs to attend to, and feel hurried these days. Great works of art have endless leisure for a background, as the universe has space. Time stands still while they are created. The artist cannot be in [a] hurry. The earth moves round the sun with inconceivable rapidity, and yet the surface of the lake is not ruffled by it. – Henry Thoreau in his journal, 1859 → Read more