DescriptionOpening remarks are given by Paul Mocsanyi of The New School; he introduces August Heckscher, then Administrator of Recreation and Cultural Affairs for Department of Parks in New York City. Heckscher discusses the value of public art and the importance of the newly-created New York State Council on the Arts. Heckscher then introduces Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller.
Governor Rockefeller makes reference to a recent appearance on the Tonight Show with Jonny Carson. Rockefeller discusses at length the influence of his family background on his interest in collecting. Rockefeller also describes in detail his involvement with numerous New York City cultural institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Primitive Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Rockefeller discusses the Rockefeller Center, founded by his father John D. Rockefeller, and its commission of a mural by Diego Rivera. Rockefeller describes Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo (whom he calls “very attractive”), as well as their politics. The mural — a fresco — was discarded by the Rockefellers because of its pro-Communist sentiment: it features a depiction of Vladimir Lenin at center, as well as Rockefeller, Sr., in an unflattering position.
Also discussed is Rockefeller’s extensive work at the intersection of government and culture. He relates his support of and involvement with the WPA during the Great Depression. He also describes his work as Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the creation of the Federal Council on the Arts. He further emphasizes a desire for architects of public buildings to collaborate with sculptors to create art in the public realm; he also answers several questions about the mechanisms of the state and government for place-making, art generation, and cultural preservation.
Rockefeller then works through a slide show of sculptures from his personal collection; including works by contemporary sculptors Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, et. al. He follows this with lithographs by Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, and Richard Lytle, et. al. Finally, Rockefeller reviews slides from his personal collection comprising the Museum of Primitive Art (note: these works were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art upon the closure of the Museum of Primitive Art).