Discord Between John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Picasso, Matisse and Rivera

Discord Between John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Picasso, Matisse and Rivera

By Claudia Palacios

Mary Louise Pierson, Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s granddaughter, gave a talk at the French Institute Alliance Française to celebrate her book Kykuit: Seven Generations of the Rockefeller Family Home. During this event she recounted how her great-grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, did not get along with Picasso, Matisse or Diego Rivera.

In 1932 the three artists were asked to paint murals at the Rockefeller Center but the only one that agreed to do it was Rivera. However, influenced by his wife, Frida Kahlo, he included a depiction of Lenin on the mural. Nelson was outraged and asked Diego to paint Lenin out, to which he refused. And not only did Rivera not remove the Russian communist politician, but also decided to add Nelson Rockefeller – a strict Baptist always faithful to his wife and non-drinker – with a martini on one hand surrounded by sensuous women to the mural.

Rockefeller fired Rivera and ordered the destruction of the mural and many were outraged. Nevertheless, the work was not completely lost as 10 months after its obliteration, Rivera’s Man Controller of the Universe was recreated in the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Man Controller of the Universe


Johnson, R. (2017, June 18). John D. Rockefeller Jr. feuded with Picasso, Matisse and Rivera. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://pagesix.com/2017/06/18/john-d-rockefeller-jr-feuded-with-picasso-matisse-and-rivera/?utm_campaign=partnerfeed&utm_medium=syndicated&utm_source=flipboard

Keyes, A. (2014, March 09). Destroyed By Rockefellers, Mural Trespassed On Political Vision. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/2014/03/09/287745199/destroyed-by-rockefellers-mural-trespassed-on-political-vision


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