Man, Controller of the Universe

Man, Controller of the Universe
Artist Diego Rivera
Year 1934
Medium Mural
Location Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City
Diego Rivera Famous Paintings
Man, Controller of the Universe, 1934
La Mujer del Pozo, 1913
En el Arsenal, 1928
Frozen Assets, 1931
The Flower Carrier, 1935
Agrarian Leader Zapata, 1931
Complete Works

The original version of Man, Controller of the Universe by Diego Rivera was never seen by the public. That is because the man who commissioned it in 1932, billionaire Nelson Rockefeller, ordered it destroyed because the painting included an image of the Russian Revolution leader Vladimir Lennon.

Conflict between Artists and Patron

Rockefeller asked Rivera to eliminate the image of Lennon and replace it with any other face. Rivera refused, but offered to add the face of President Lincoln. The two men never agreed. Rockefeller paid Rivera’s full fee and then destroyed the painting – which was actually a long mural in two pieces made to be hung in Rockefeller Center.

The Second Version, a Masterpiece

Diego Rivera then painted a second version. This work, Man, Controller of the Universe is considered his most important work. It depicts the emergence of man into a new scientific and industrial age. The center of the image displays a robust man dressed in worker’s coveralls and wearing heavy gloves. His hand grasps a lever. Behind him is a part of a giant cog. What appear to be four wings splay out from this central figure. Inside each wing are transcendent scenes of stars and galaxies, but also biological organisms, including cells and bacterium.

On either side masses of humanity representing many facets of the human race are gathered and engaged in various activities, from marching soldiers to workers sitting on barrels and industrial pipes.

One response to “Man, Controller of the Universe”

  1. Passerby says:

    Vladimir Lennon?

    hmm not totally historically correct but has a nice ring to it lol

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