Short Cuts America: il blog di Arnaldo Testi

Politica e storia degli Stati Uniti

Henry Ford, un vero poeta: parola di comunista

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Un’altra avventura del muralista comunista messicano Diego Rivera in Gringolandia. Prima che con Rockefeller, si misura con un altro gigante dell’americanismo – Henry Ford. E questa volta è non solo amore a prima vista, è anche luna di miele.

In un post precedente, ho parlato del lavoro di Diego Rivera a Manhattan nel 1933, e del disastroso scontro politico con il suo sponsor – il capitalismo americano in persona, Rockefeller. Argomento dello scandalo: l’inserimento di un ritratto di Lenin in un murale del Rockefeller Center. Prima di arrivare a New York, Rivera decora nel 1932 il Detroit Institute of Arts, questa volta sponsorizzato – da chi altri, a Detroit, se non da Edsel Ford e da suo padre Henry Ford, l’industrialismo novecentesco in persona.

Anche lì Rivera ha qualche problema politico, ma non con l’amico Henry. Con Ford e, mi sembra di capire, con il fordismo c’è amore a prima vista, e poi una duratura luna di miele. Rivera è incantato dalla “meravigliosa sinfonia” delle officine del suo “impero industriale” – “una nuova musica” che aspetta il suo compositore. Ed è incantato dall’uomo: “un vero poeta e artista, uno dei più grandi del mondo”. Dice di averne visto il ritratto nella Russia sovietica, accanto a quelli di Stalin, di Marx e, ebbene sì, di Lenin. Insieme a loro, gli dicono in Russia, con le sue innovazioni Ford rende possibile l’edificazione del socialismo.

Così almeno Rivera racconta nell’autobiografia, di cui pubblico qui sotto un breve stralcio – in inglese (non ho voglia di tradurlo). Tratto appunto da Diego Rivera, My Art, My Life: An Autobiography (1960, Dover Publications 1991, pp. 114-115). Aggiungo un po’ di immagini, di dettagli del complesso di murali che occupano varie pareti del DIA, il Detroit Institute of Arts. Ci sono anche i ritratti di Henry Ford (il primo qui sotto) e di Edsel (il secondo). E la assembly line, la catena di montaggio, la fa per così dire da padrona.

Post Scriptum. Nel frattempo, proprio in questi giorni, il 23 aprile 2014, il U.S. Department of the Interior ha inserito i murali di Detroit fra i National Historical Landmarks – con queste motivazioni (e grazie a Alessandro Tapparini per la segnalazione):

“Between July 1932 and March 1933, Diego Rivera, a premier leader in the 1920s Mexican Mural Movement, executed the Detroit Industry mural cycle, considered the United States’ finest, modern monumental artwork devoted to industry. It depicts the City of Detroit’s manufacturing base and labor force on all four walls of the Detroit Institute of Art’s Garden Court. Considered by many scholars to be Rivera’s greatest extant work in the United States, Detroit Industry is an exemplary representation of the introduction and emergence of mural art in the United States between the Depression and World War II.”

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A Visit with Henry Ford

Having eaten lunch [with Henry Ford in his house in Dearborn], I got up to return to my job. Ford shook hands with meagain and said warmly, “Good-bye, Diego, thank you for coming. I can’t tellyou how much I’ve enjoyed our meeting.”

“Good-bye and thank you too, Henry,” I responded with equal warmth. As I rode back to Detroit, a vision of Henry Ford’s industrial empire kept passing before my eyes. In my ears, I heard the wonderful symphony which came from his factories where metals were shaped into tools for men’s service. It was a new music, waiting for the composer with genius enough to give it communicable form.

I thought of the millions of different men by whose combined labor and thought automobiles were produced, from the miners who dug the iron ore out of the earth to the railroad men and teamsters who brought the finished machines to the consumer, so that man, space, and time might be conquered, and ever-expanding victories be won against death.

And then I recalled, as clearly as if they were now flowing into my ears, the words I had heard spoken by a Russian worker. On a visit to his home I had noticed, hanging on a wall, three separate portraits above a fourth, of Stalin. The first portrait was of Karl Marx, the center one of Lenin, and the third, a likeness of my esteemed new friend, Henry Ford. As my face showed astonishment at this unique ensemble, the worker had explained, “Those three make the establishment of socialism a real possibility. Karl Marx produced the indispensable theory. Lenin applied the theory with hissense of large-scale social organization. And Henry Ford made the work of the socialist state possible. None of their contributions would have meant anything, however, without the political genius of Stalin.”

Recalling these words now, I regretted that Henry Ford was a capitalist and one of the richest men on earth. I did not feel free to praise him as long and as loudly as I wanted to, since that would put me under the suspicion of sycophancy, of flattering the rich. Otherwise, I should have attempted to write a book presenting Henry Ford as I saw him, a true poet and artist, one of the greatest in the world.

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Categories: cultura di massa, Cultura politica, Radicalism

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