Hacker News

rob74 said 13 days ago:

> [...] a fresco — paint on wet plaster instead of on canvas. That meant the work couldn't be moved

That's not really true - detaching frescos from walls is a technique practiced since Roman times (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detachment_of_wall_paintings). However it's probably expensive and labour-intensive, and in this case I imagine nobody wanted to pay for it...

bogomipz said 13 days ago:

Nelson Rockefeller was actually the one that commissioned Diego Rivera for the piece. The article makes it sound like John D. Rockefeller was involved with the commission. Nelson like his mother was a big patron of the arts. The story I have heard was that Nelson was interested in having it moved to MOMA(Museum of Modern Art) and paying for it. For some context Nelson's mother was Abby Aldrich one of the founders of MOMA. The sculpture garden at MOMA today is named after her. Given their interest in the arts and being involved in that circle in Manhattan it seems rather unlikely that Nelson would have ordered it to be destroyed. Although it certainly makes for a more exciting narrative - class struggle, art and violence. Why the move of the piece to MOMA never happened seems be lost to the dustbin of history unfortunately but I have heard it posited that Diego felt the destruction of it was of greater value as a political statement.

pmiller2 said 13 days ago:

Relevant again, for the second time in 2 hours: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23279742

nabla9 said 13 days ago:

Rockefeller and other billionaires are class of people who collect cultural artifacts and value give them absurdly high valuations without making money out of them. They signal their peers that money does not matter to them using art.

99% of what gives art it's value is that it's collectible and can't be owned by others. Today you can take a good photo of the painting, or replicate statue so well that you need expert to find out it's not the original. Being a good replication will not decrease aesthetic value of art, it just decreases the collectible value and social prestige from owning it (masses can't own originals).

Valuing 'original' is capitalistic invention.

kweinber said 13 days ago:

That’s not fair. Much of what gives art its value is its usefulness in money laundering..... arbitrarily high-priced items with no inherent value are staples for legitimizing cash transfers.

nabla9 said 13 days ago:

That's part of value but not what big money billionaires do.

They actually spend money to fund institutions that eat hundreds of millions and what they get is galas and places to mingle. Really really rich are not laundering money. They are burning it to show they are cultured elite and not just rich.

chrisco255 said 13 days ago:

Nonsense, look at the myth of King Arthur and the search for the Holy Grail. Why go to such lengths if this specific Grail didn't have some sentimental meaning beyond its basic beauty and function as an inanimate object? Isn't that the whole point of valuing 'original'? The essence of the user or creator is thought to be instilled in the original and that fact alone has value.

pmiller2 said 13 days ago:

You have no idea. Take a look at how the super rich use modern art as a store of value and a tax deduction.

agustif said 13 days ago:

Or full tax-evasion.

A lot of high priced pieces of art are only sold/bought in the basis of moving money discreetly.

kweinber said 13 days ago:

Bingo. And they are stored in airport storage facilities to claim international tax-free status... Storing visual art in warehouses never to be seen is a move so brazen that it should have been cracked down on long ago

saalweachter said 13 days ago:

I wonder what percent of money coming in to fund art in general comes from the 0.X%.

Obviously there is a tax angle here, at which point the tax authorities should care about your chicanery, but I wonder because, even if it isn't realistic to make "mistreatment of art" a civil or criminal liability, you could make it into a social liability.

If you destroy art, or squirrel away an undue amount never to be seen again, or what-have-you, and in return, a number of prestigious artists and art institutes could decline to have anything to do with you. You could no longer serve on the board of the Met, and your donations would be refused. Artists would refuse to sell to you or accept commissions. I suppose it would be counterproductive to stop accepting loans of art to exhibit in the museums, but perhaps they would only be accepted to exhibit anonymously -- no "on loan from Big Wig collection" next to the painting.

This probably wouldn't work if too much of the money that flows to artists and art institutes comes directly from the pockets of billionaires; I'd be surprised if, on aggregate, even principled people would be willing to cut out more than 5 or 10% of their income as a matter of said principles.

agustif said 13 days ago:

Well this kinda happened a few months back to some very wealthy US family (I think they got very rich thanks to selling legal opioids, during the opioid crisis) but somehow and by donating loads of cash, they ended up with their names on Museums, Universities, etc...

Can't remember their name though

infinite8s said 13 days ago:

The Sacklers. Although they had their names on lots of things before their connection to the opioids crisis came out.

rukittenme said 13 days ago:

> Valuing 'original' is capitalistic invention.

I think "valuing originality" is a human trait. Putting a monetary value on it is a capitalist invention.

jaldhar said 13 days ago:

I think originality is a relatively new concept in human thought. The Sanskrit book I’m reading at the moment ha a startlingly new interpretation of an ancient school of philosophy but the author takes pains to note that he is not saying anything new but merely recovering the “true meaning” which was lost a long time ago. Or think of all the medieval forgeries which were attributed to Aristotle or some other ancient author.

Valuing innovation over continuity is one of the distinguishing features of modernity versus traditional cultures.

chrisco255 said 13 days ago:

It might be because it was difficult to capture the value created by an invention in the time before common law, capitalism, and intellectual property rights.

meebob said 13 days ago:

The more interesting thing is that this happened more than once! The Ford family helped fund Rivera to create the 'Detroit Industry Murals', which happily, unlike the Rockefeller mural, survives to the present day.


justin66 said 13 days ago:

As always, you don't really want to go entirely by the headline. The mural did a bit more than trespass on a political vision:

Then, the World Telegram newspaper ran the headline: "Rivera Paints Scenes of Communist Activity and John D. Jr. Foots the Bill." Pliego says Rivera then decided to add a portrait of communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin to the mural.

"He sent his assistants to find a picture of Lenin because, he said, 'If you want communism, I will paint communism,' " Pliego says.

On top of that, according to David Rockefeller Sr., Rivera added a panel that the family felt was an unflattering portrait of his father.

"The picture of Lenin was on the right-hand side, and on the left, a picture of [my] father drinking martinis with a harlot and various other things that were unflattering to the family and clearly inappropriate to have as the center of Rockefeller Center," he said.

bogomipz said 13 days ago:

This article has a couple of pictures of Diego at Rock Center working on "Man at the Crossroads":


AlgorithmicTime said 13 days ago:

I dunno, Rockefeller commissioned the man to paint a mural, and the guy deliberately included themes offensive to sense and to the Rockefeller personally. Seems reasonable to remove it.

thendrill said 13 days ago:

I have a feeling this and the comments will get quickly shodowbanned once the debate in the comments becomes political