From Eyesore and Epiphany to Elegance and Elegy: Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals

Graham W. J. Beal, Director, The Detroit Institute of Arts

In this presentation, Graham Beal addresses the multiple purposes behind the creation of Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts as well as its changes in meaning within a city that went from being “the arsenal of democracy” to a poster child for urban decay. Beal will also discuss how individual works of art, conceived as being rare and singular, retain their power as visual objects when contextualized and confronted with increasingly sophisticated reproduction techniques.

Graham W. J. Beal has been the director, president and CEO of the Detroit Institute of Arts since 1999. Since joining the DIA’s leadership, Beal has overseen two major capital campaigns, guided the reinstallation of the museum’s world-renowned collection, and overseen the museum’s renovation and expansion. Beal has built upon the museum’s outstanding reputation and has strengthened relationships with some of the world’s most well-regarded institutions through loans and programming supported by the museum’s collection. Under Beal’s leadership the DIA has co-organized outstanding exhibitions such as Van Gogh: Face to Face in 2000 and Magnificenza! The Medici, Michelangelo and Art of the Late Renaissance Florence in 2003. Prior to his tenure at the DIA, Beal served as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1996 to 1999. He held the position of the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, from 1989 to 1996 and served as chief curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 1984 to 1989.