Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Nov 1990
|9 Dec 2007||converted to EAD (MRC)|
|5 Mar 2010||Wight's dates corrected (MRC)|
|6 Jan 2017||fixed index code (MRC)|
|13 Nov 2017||rehoused, inventory updated (MS)|
Overview of the Collection
|Title:||Clifford Wight Collection relating to Diego Rivera|
|Quantity:||1.25 linear ft.|
|Abstract:||Papers of the Mexican muralist. An epigrapher and sculptor, Wight acted as secretary, translator, and technical assistant to Diego Rivera during the latter's sojourn in the United States. Collection includes a variety of materials relating to Rivera's mural work in Detroit, San Francisco, and New York, including technical documents, correspondence, miscellaneous holograph and typescript manuscripts, photographs, and printed material.|
|Repository:||Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
Diego Rivera (1886-1957) was a Mexican muralist. He studied in Mexico City and in Europe, and became a well-known for his cubist and post-Impressionist works. Rivera's works are in the permanent collections of museums across the United States and elsewhere, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), Fundación Proa (Buenos Aires), the Hermitage Museum, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Museu de Arte de São Paulo (Brazil), and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (Iran).
Clifford Wight (1900-ca. 1960), an Englishman, was a fellow artist and Rivera's secretary, translator and technical assistant during Rivera's work on murals in Detroit, New York and San Francisco. Rivera painted a portrait of Wight into one of the frescoes in the Secretariat of Education in Mexico City.
The Clifford Wight Collection Relating to Diego Rivera comprises an assortment of materials which document the Mexican painter's mural work during his sojourn in the United States. An epigrapher and sculptor, Wight was approached via telegram from Rivera (24 Oct. 1931):
Please wire if you can go immediately to New York as my assistant to prepare walls for frescos. Your fare and twelve dollars [a] day for about six weeks ...
Wight acted as Rivera's secretary, translator and technical assistant through the completion of the murals in Detroit, New York and San Francisco. Spanning the years 1929 to 1941, the collection includes technical documents, correspondence, miscellaneous holograph and typescript manuscripts, photographs, printed material, and subject files.
The collection begins with a variety of Technical documents, the bulk of which is divided between two projects, the murals for the Detroit Institute of Arts (previously called the Detroit Museum of Art) and those for Rockefeller Center. Materials include agenda, cost analyses, proposals, specifications, and work schedules. Also among the technical documents are a chemical analysis of fresco application and a drawing of the panel layout for an unidentified mural.
Correspondence, generated between 1929 and 1933, is chronologically arranged and consists of both the incoming and outgoing letters of Diego Rivera and/or Clifford Wight. The correspondence is almost exclusively of a business nature and includes that with Clyde Burroughs and W.R. Valentiner of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Theodore Dreiser, Edsel Ford, William Gerstle, Albert Kahn, and Nelson Rockefeller. An index to the correspondence appears at the end of this inventory.
Following the correspondence is an assortment, arranged by author, of Miscellaneous manuscripts, both holograph and typescript. Included among these documents are George Biddle's "Plans for Study," which accompanies a blank fellowship application to the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation; two essays, Edgar P. Richardson's "The New World," and Diego Rivera's "The Position of the Artist in Russia Today"; a statement by Clifford Wight in defense of the Coit Tower murals; and the lyrics for a party song about Rivera by an unidentified author.
Photographs include images of Rivera's frescoes at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, the New Workers School, the San Francisco Art Insitute; several prints of what are believed to be examples of Clifford Wight's sculpture and epigraphy in stone; as well as three items labeled "fresco painting, Monterey, California" by an unidentified artist. Also among the photographs are several formal poses of Wight's wife, professional model Jean Abbott, and a number of candid shots of the couple's friends, including a few with Rivera and his wife, artist Frida Kahlo. In addition, the collection contains an assortment of photographs which appear to have been taken (by Wight?) in China during the early part of the 20th century.
Printed material comprises articles about Rivera's murals (1931 1939), newspaper clippings (1931 1941), and an assortment of ephemera. The articles are mainly selections from general interest periodicals (The American Mercury, The Commonweal, The Modern Monthly, The Nation, Time) while the clippings reflect coverage of the controversial artist by major American newspapers in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York as well as the British and Mexican press. Ephemera consists of a wide range of material, including advertisements, course catalogs, lecture announcements, and theatre programs.
The Subject file consists exclusively of visual material, and includes 3 original drawings by unidentified artists, general art references, and reproductions of Rivera's drawings and murals.
Technical documents, manuscripts, photographs, and subject files are arranged alphabetically by title/topic. Correspondence is arranged chronologically. Printed material is subdivided by type and then arranged alphabetically by title.
The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.
Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.
Burroughs, Clyde Huntley, 1882-
Dreiser, Thoedore, 1871-1945.
Ford, Edsel, 1893-1943.
Kahn, Albert, 1869-1942.
Morris, Gouverneur, 1876-
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957.
Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979.
Valentiner, Wilhelm Reinhold, 1880-1958.
Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Detroit Institute of Arts.
Detroit Museum of Art.
Mexican American art.
Mural painting and decoration -- California.
Mural painting and decoration -- Michigan -- Detroit.
Mural painting and decoration -- United States -- 20th century.
Mural painting and decoration --New York (State) -- New York.
Genres and Forms
Agendas (administrative records)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)
Manuscripts for publication.
Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Clifford Wight Collection relating to Diego Rivera,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
Index to correspondence
|Box 1||Detroit Institute of Arts - agenda, work schedules|
|Box 1||Detroit Institute of Arts - cost analyses|
|Box 1||Rockefeller Center - proposal for subject matter of mural|
|Box 1||Rockefeller Center - specifications|
|Box 1||Chemical analysis of fresco process|
|Box 1||Drawing of panel layout|
|Box 1||[General] 1929 (3 letters)|
|Box 1||[General] 1931 (5 letters, 3 telegrams)|
|Box 1||[General] 1932, Jan-Oct. (9 letters)|
|Box 1||[General] 1932, Nov-Dec. (10 letters, 2 enclosures, 1 draft)|
|Box 1||[General] 1933 (9 letters)|
|Box 1||[General] undated (2 drafts)|
|Box 1||Biddle, George. "Plans for Study" 1931 - statement attached to fellowship application to the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation|
|Box 1||Richardson, Edgar P. "The New World" undated|
|Box 1||Rivera, Diego. "The Position of the Artist in Russia Today" 1932|
|Box 1||Wight, Clifford undated - statement in defense of Coit Tower murals|
|Box 1||Unidentified author, lyrics "To the tune of Columbo" - song about Rivera|
|Diego Rivera frescoes|
|Box 1||Detroit Institute of Arts (5 folders)|
|Box 1||Ministry of Education (Mexico City)|
|Oversize 1||Museum of Modern Art|
|Box 1||New Workers School|
|Box 1||Rockefeller Center sketch|
|Oversize 1||San Francisco Art Institute|
|Box 1||Stern fresco (in progress)|
|Box 1||Chapingo chapel doors after Rivera design|
|Box 1||Clifford Wight, Jean Abbott, Kahlo, Rivera, and Mrs. Henry Ford|
|Oversize 1||Clifford Wight with crew team|
|Box 1||Clifford Wight's work (in question) (3 folders)|
|Oversize 1||Diego Rivera, Clifford Wight|
|Box 1||Jean Abbott as professional model|
|Box 1||Jean Abbott, Clifford Wight, and friends (2 folders)|
|Box 1||Jean Abbott, Frida Kahlo|
|Box 1||Ralph Stackpole's work|
|Oversize 1||Unidentified artist, "fresco painting, Monterey, California"|
|Box 1||"Art and Rockefeller," The Nation Apr. 4, 1934|
|Box 1||"Christ in a Skyscraper," Time Sept. 25, 1933|
|Box 1||"Communist Riches," Time Dec. 18, 1933|
|Box 1||"Concerning Senor Rivera," The Commonweal May 26, 1933|
|Box 1||"Diego Rivera Mexican Master," Vanity Fair June 1933|
|Box 1||"Diego Rivera the Artist of the People" undated|
|Box 1||"The Diego Rivera Rockefeller Center and Detroit Museum of Art Murals," The Modern Monthly undated|
|Box 1||"The Famous Fresco by Diego Rivera," California Arts & Architecture Dec. 1931|
|Box 1||"First photograph of the whole of Diego Rivera's mural in Rockefeller Center ..." The News Week at Home June 3, 1933|
|Box 1||"Honor Among Revolutionaries," Time Sept. 9, 1935|
|Box 1||"Michigan Miracle" / William Hard undated|
|Box 1||"New York Views the Rivera Controversy," D.A.C. News undated|
|Box 1||"Politics & the Painting of Business / Thomas Craven The American Mercury Dec. 1932|
|Box 1||"Rivera in Reforma," Time Nov. 30, 1939?|
|Box 1||"Rivera's Murals ... Genius or Trash?" / George W. Stark D.A.C. News Apr. 1933|
|Box 1||"Square Foot Show," Time Dec. 28, 1931|
|Box 1||"What Is Art For?" / Diego Rivera The Modern Monthly undated|
|Box 1||"Zapata and White Horse" undated - full page reproduction of fresco, Museum of Modern Art, New York|
|Box 2||Boston newspapers, originals 1934|
|Box 2||Boston newspapers, copies|
|Box 2||British newspapers, originals 1935-1936|
|Box 2||British newspapers, copies|
|Box 2||Chicago newspapers, originals 1932-1933|
|Box 2||Chicago newspapers, copies|
|Box 2||Detroit newspapers, originals 1932-1933 (3 folders)|
|Box 2||Detroit newspapers, copies|
|Box 2||Los Angeles newspapers, originals 1934|
|Box 2||Los Angeles newspapers, copies|
|Box 2||Mexican newspapers, originals 1933 1935, 1941|
|Box 2||Mexican newspapers, copies|
|Box 2||The New York Times, originals 1931-1933 (2 folders)|
|Box 2||The New York Times, copies (2 folders)|
|Box 2||New York newspapers, originals 1931-1933 (2 folders)|
|Box 2||New York newspapers, copies (2 folders)|
|Box 2||San Francisco newspapers, originals 1931 1937 (2 folders)|
|Box 2||San Francisco newspapers, copies (2 folders)|
|Box 2||Miscellaneous sources, originals (3 folders)|
|Box 2||Miscellaneous sources, copies (3 folders)|
|Box 2||"A. Ferrier's Theatre of Art La Gaite Francaise" January program|
|Box 2||Advertisement, Jean Abbott, model|
|Box 2||"Announcement of The American Spectator"|
|Box 2||"The Art Workers' Guild ... 'Traditional and Modern Mural Painting'... Wight will show the scale drawings by Diego Rivera for Detroit" - lecture announcement Mar 1937|
|Box 2||California School of Fine Arts 1930-1931, 1931-1932 - 2 catalogs, regular session (2 folders)|
|Box 2||The Diego Rivera Frescoes: a Guide to the Murals of the Garden Court Detroit: People's Museum Association circa 1933|
|Box 2||"The Diego Rivera Murals" - pre-publication announcement of People's Museum Association pamphlet about murals|
|Box 2||"La Gaite Francaise Theatre d'Art" season announcement 1927-1928|
|Box 2||"The Museum of Modern Art announces a lecture on Diego Rivera" by Jere Abbott ..." lecture announcement|
|Box 2||"Pacific Chinese Dramatic Club presents Mei Lan Fang ..." program|
|Box 2||"Theatre d'Art" season announcement 1930-1931|
|Oversize 1||Drawings, original - 3 by unidentified artists|
|Box 2||References, general|
|Oversize 1||References, oversize|
|Box 2||Rivera murals, drawings - reproductions|
|Box 2||Unidentified images|