The Writing on the Wall: MoMA, Diego Rivera, and the American Mural Movement




Korfitzen, Kristen

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This thesis takes a closer look at the American mural movement of the early 1930s. While scholars have begun to re-assess the federally commissioned murals of the great depression, little work has been done on the years directly preceding the relief programs when the idea of the “American mural” was still being formed. This thesis discusses a series of events and works of art that were key in shaping what would become the standard iconography of a federal mural. These include Diego Rivera’s 1931 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, the 1932 Museum of Modern Art exhibition Murals by American Painters and Photographers, and Diego Rivera’s 1933 mural Man at the Crossroads. In these three years the debate over the function and form of American murals came to a head. This thesis argues that the dialog surrounding these three events lays out the basic theoretical structure of 1930s American murals including; appropriate subject matter, location and access to the public, and methods of production.



Muralism, Mexican muralism, Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957, Gellert, Hugo, 1892-1985, Exhibitions, Murals