This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features MoMA curator Leah Dickerman, who has organized “Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art.” The exhibition is on view until May 14. Rivera was a staunch communist and his murals include scathing critiques of American-style capitalism during The Great Depression — and of the Rockefeller family, which lavishly supported both MoMA and Rivera himself. The show — and the conversation I have with Dickerman — resounds with echoes of today’s American economic situation. [A detail from Rivera's Agrarian Leader Zapata (1931) is in this week's banner.]
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In our conversation, Dickerman and I discuss:
- How a trip to Italy helped Diego Rivera transition from second-rate cubist to first-rate muralist;
- How Rivera became the second artist to receive a MoMA retrospective (after Henri Matisse) and how he made his MoMA murals in a Manhattan studio near the museum;
- How Rivera expanded what seems to have been the initial project to include a biting look at income inequality and the plight of the working class in skyscraper-mad, Depression-era New York; and
- How it is that Dickerman, who curated the anti-war exhibition “Dada” at the National Gallery of Art just as the Bush administration was pushing America to war in Iraq in 2006, repeatedly ends up curating modern exhibitions that speak to the present moment.
In this week’s draft, Indianapolis Museum of Art curator Lisa Freiman joins me to discuss which artists might represent the United States at the next Venice Biennale. The State Department is currently reviewing nominations for 2013. Freiman was the commissioner of the 2011 pavilion, at which the U.S. exhibited Allora and Calzadilla.
The Modern Art Notes Podcast is an independent production of Modern Art Notes Media. It is released under this Creative Commons license. For images of the works discussed on this week’s program, click through to the jump.
Diego Rivera, Agrarian Leader Zapata, 1931. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Diego Rivera, Frozen Assets, 1931-32. Collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico.
Diego Rivera, Frozen Assets (detail), 1931-32. Collection of Muse0 Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico.
Diego Rivera, Indian Warrior, 1931. Collection of the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Mass.
Diego Rivera, The Uprising, 1931.
Diego Rivera, Electric Power, 1931-32.
Diego Rivera, Pneumatic Drill (Cartoon for Pneumatic Drilling), 1931. Collection of Muse0 Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico.
Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir IV, 1998. Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Martha Rosler, The Gray Drape, 2008. Collection Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington.
Adrian Piper, Art for the Art World Surface Pattern, 1976/87. Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
To read more about and to see Natalie Jeremijenko’s projects, click here.