Detroit Industry Murals, 1932-1933

  • Diego M. Rivera, Mexican, 1886 - 1957


  • various dimensions

Gift of Edsel B. Ford


The themes established on the east wall are continued on the west wall, where the technologies of the air (aviation) and water (shipping and pleasure boating) are represented in the upper panels. The half-face/half-skull in the central monochrome panel symbolizes both the coexistence of life and death as well as humanity's spiritual and physical aspects, while the star symbolizes aspirations and hope for civilization. This heraldic image introduces another major theme of the cycle: the dual qualities of human beings, nature, and technology. Vertical panels on each side of the west entrance to the court introduce the automobile industry theme through the representation of Power House No. I, the energy source for the Rouge complex.

various signatures on each wall

Inscribed, South wall lower register lower right of center panel (on sheet of paper): These frescoes | painted between July | 25 1932 and March 13 | 1933 while Dr. William | R. Valentiner was direc-| tor of the Art Institute | are the gift to the City | of Detroit of Mr. Edsel | B. Ford, President of the Art Commission.

1933-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Canaday, John. Mainstreams of Modern Art. New York, 1959, p. 507 (fig. 640). Hillyer, V. M. Fine Art. New York, 1966, p. 122-123 (ill.). Museum Adventures.New York, 1969, p. 115-117 (ill.). Myers, B. S., ed. Encyclopedia of Painting. New York, 1970, (col. pl. 176). DIA Handbook. 1971, p. 151. "The Rouge." The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1978, p. 47-91 (ill.). Ford, S. F. "Edsel Ford: Artistic Industrialist." The Herald. (Spring 1979): p. 34 (ill.). Nagle, J. "The Responsive Arts." Sherman Oaks, CA, 1980, p. 162 (figs. 4-43). Pieterson, M., ed. Het Technisch Labyrint. Amsterdam, 1981, p. 63 (pl. 7). "Labor Law." The Michigan Bar Journal 61, 7 (July 1982): p. 517 (ill.). Bergstrom, B., A. Lowgren, and H. Almgren. "Alla Tiders Historia." Liber Laromedel, 1984, p. 63 (pl. 7). Bird, D.W., II. "The Detroit Industry Frescoes of Diego Rivera." Automobile Quarterly XXIII, 2 (1985): p. 165-169 (ill.). 100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, p. 224-225 (ill.). Johnson, W. "The Tumultuous Life and Times of the Painter Diego Rivera." Smithsonian 16, 11 (February 1986): p. 43-45 (ill.). Kostof, Spiro. America by Design. New York City, 1987, p. 276-277 (col. pl. 5). Catalano, Julie. "The Mexican Americans." The Peoples of North America. New York, 1988, p.36-37 (ill.). Downs, Linda Bank. Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals. New York, 1999. Sikora, Sonja, “Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner.” In Ludwig Meidner: Encounters, ed. Philipp Gutbrod. Munich, 2016, ill. 90. Doss, Erika. American Art of the 20th-21st Centuries. New York, 2017, p. 74 (pl. 46). Coffey, Mary K. Orozco's American Epic: Myth, History, and the Melancholy of Race. Durham and London, 2020, pp. 169-176, (fig. 3.22-3.26). Moving Pictures: The Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera. London, BBC4, 2020 (digital audio file) (Released November 23, 2020). Oles, James, ed. Diego Rivera's America. Exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. San Francisco, 2022, p. 165-171; p. 165 (fig. 2); p. 178 (pl. 154, ill. detail).

Diego M. Rivera, Detroit Industry Murals, 1932-1933, frescoes. Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Edsel B. Ford, 33.10.