The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This article by Diego Rivera discusses the position of the artist in the Soviet Union. For Rivera, the most salient aspect of Soviet artistic production was the theater, which works for the masses and, in turn, the masses consume it. Western or bourgeois-style decorative painting and sculpture, on the other hand, had no place there, given that the workers could not purchase them; artists, as such, must change the framework in which they operated. Architecture, in Rivera’s view, was evolving slowly and might serve as a backdrop for the integration of mural painting, which could be enjoyed by all. Nevertheless, Rivera had already begun to accuse Stalin of considering “healthy” Western intellectuals to be renegades, traitors, and socio-fascists.
Upon returning from his trip to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Diego Rivera (1886–1957) seems to have been disappointed to find that his position was somewhere between the stance established by the Communist Party Central Committee during the Stalin years (1934–53), which saw Socialist painting solely as propaganda, and the position held by the Berlin-Paris axis. Rivera believed that revolutionary painting ought to be made accessible to the masses through themes they might be able to grasp, just like the painting that had evolved from the Russian traditions. In the article, the seeds of his theory of “visual integration” between architecture and painting can be seen. The anger he felt for [Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili] Stalin began to simmer during this period, making it possible, as such, to understand how and why he would later welcome [Lev Davidovich Bronshtein] Trotsky (1879–1940) to Mexico City.