It's the 80th anniversary of the famous "Detroit Industry" murals by Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
In 1933, many people were freaked out by the artwork by the Mexican communist, and you can count The Detroit News among those who just didn't get the work. The following are the first three pargraphs from the News' editorial that ran almost exactly 80 years ago. Click on the link to read the rest.
A mural, such as the Rivera mural in the Detroit Institute of Arts, which actually becomes an integral part of the building in which it is located, should be a decoration harmonious with the structure and with its general embellishment and contents. The first impression on entering the courts of the Institute from the public lobby should be an invitation, not a shock.
It is disappointing to record that to many that first view seems one of something psychologically erroneous, coarse in conception and, to many women observers, foolishly vulgar. Where the first impression should be one to draw the observer on with eagerness to see and enjoy the rest of the pictorial decoration, here instead there is a false, or at the best incomplete impression of our day to be passed on impressively as a record to the generations to come.
Even if the public, expert or otherwise, accepts the unaccustomed patterns, apparent distortions and distasteful lack of color harmony, which already seem to have aroused a measure of shocked criticism, it is admittedly true and unfortunate that the murals are without meaning to the generally intelligent observer without the artist's own interpretation.