In the early 1980s students thought that the red badge on Rivera’s worker had originally included the communist hammer and sickle symbol and that it had been painted over. One night they used the lift to reach this portion of the mural and painted a hammer and sickle onto the worker’s red badge. This coincided with the Detroit Institute of Arts photographing the mural for their publication on Rivera. Consequently, the book included the students’ hammer and sickle with writing that Rivera’s “left leaning politics is evident in the hammer and sickle he painted on the worker.” In 1991 conservators Will Shank and Molly Lambert worked on the mural and reported that Rivera’s red badge had never included the hammer and sickle and that the students had performed their enhancement in toothpaste so it was easy to remove. Diego would have been proud of these students.
With permission, SFAA is re-posting the emails Jeff Gunderson Librarian/Archivist Anne Bremer Memorial Library has been sending out since March 2020. Please enjoy this magnificent archive.