Glober looks at Tokenhouse’s paintings and asks” “Do I detect the influence of Diego Rivera, Mr. Tokenhouse? … Or is it José Clemente Orozco, who did those frescoes at Dartmouth?” [TK 148/141]
Diego Rivera (1886-1957) is the best known of the Mexican muralists who covered walls in Mexico and elsewhere with a sophisticated blend of Social Realism and European high Modernism, showing the life of the downtrodden and poor. Tokenhouse was “in ecstasies” when Glober made the connection, because Rivera was a Marxist and champion of peasants and other workers. His fresco Man at the Crossroads was commissioned for Rockefeller Center in New York but was chiseled off the wall because of its controversial political themes including an image of Lenin. Liberation of the Peon (above) shows Rivera’s depiction of Mexican revolutionaries trying to help a tortured peon.
José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), was another of the Mexican muralists; his work often illustrated the lives of the poor and oppressed. Between 1932 and 1934 he painted a series of frescoes at Dartmouth college, showing the history of the Western Hemisphere from before the Aztecs through industrialization. Powell might have seen these frescoes when he lectured at Dartmouth in 1962; today, the Dartmouth Digital Orozco allows you to explore all 360 degrees of the room full of frescoes.
Powell has drawn a comic caricature of Tokenhouse in Venice, quite different from Tokenhouse before the war. Despite his intellect, he is naive, easily flattered, easily duped, with a political monomania that distorts his artistry.