Diego Rivera “Man at the Crossroads” / the Rockefellers
(In 1933, the Rockefellers commissioned muralist Diego Rivera to create a mural for the ground-floor wall of the Rockefeller Center. The artist was given a theme: “Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future.”
Nelson Rockefeller was outraged by the finished mural, which included images of society women drinking alcohol, a portrait of Leon Trotsky, and a prominent depiction of Vladimir Lenin. Rockefeller asked Rivera to change the face of Lenin to one of an anonymous laborer. When Rivera refused, Rockefeller paid the artist and immediately had the work draped over (never to be shown to the public). Soon after, workers demolished the mural, hauling pieces of the work away in wheelbarrows.
One of Rivera’s assistants had taken a photograph of the mural before it was destroyed. Using that photo as reference, Rivera eventually recreated the mural at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, where it was renamed “Man, Controller of the Universe.”
Rockefeller later hired muralist Jose Maria Sert to replace Rivera’s work with a new mural with Abraham Lincoln as its focal point.)