This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features MoMA curator Leah Dickerman, who has organized “Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art.”
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 both in this week’s MANPodcast.com banner. The complete artwork is above.]
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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 “Dada” exhibition 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 here.
I was lucky enough to take a course in college (on the origins of abstraction) co-taught by Leah. She is fabulously smart and well-spoken—so take a listen!