The Great, Oh-So-Ironic Saga of the Machine: Rivera's Detroit Murals Now National Landmark

by
Abby Zimet

Multiple irony alert: The fabulous Detroit Industry murals celebrating the city's labor force painted in the 1930s by Mexican artist Diego Rivera - works once dubbed "un-American" and "detestable" due to Rivera's Marxist politics and populist insistence that art belonged to the public - have been declared a national historic landmark. The move comes even as voracious creditors, many representing the same massive financial institutions that bled Detroit dry, are now hounding the bankrupt city and beleaguered museum for the right to auction off the works to get their pound of flesh. The landmark status for the murals, considered Rivera's best work and the finest examples of Mexican mural art in the U.S., recognizes them as "places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.” A heritage, clearly, that still includes vulture capitalism.

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