1913 March 29

Theodore Roosevelt Warns That U.S. Threatened by “European Extremists” — Artists

 

Former President Theodore Roosevelt on this day published an article warning that the U.S. was being threatened by “European  extremists.” He was referring to artists, who had exhibited at the landmark Armory Show in New YoCity. The show is one of the most famous events in the history of art in America, as it exhibited for the first time in this country a large number of modern artists, including Kandinsky, Matisse, Braque  and Picasso. Roosevelt saw them as the “lunatic fringe” of the art world.

Roosevelt also saw European political radicals, especially anarchists, as threats to the U.S. And during World War I he argued that workers who did not work to their fullest capacity should be shot.

In one of the most famous instances of the censorship of art, future Vice President of the U.S. Nelson Rockefeller on May 9, 1933 ordered the destruction of murals at the new Rockefeller center in New York City, which had been painted by the famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Rivera had included left-wing themes in his murals.

Read Roosevelt’s 1916 speech “America for Americans” here.

Read: Roger Daniels, Debating American Immigration, 1892 – Present (2001)

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