THE SAD. TALE OF THE TIMID TRUSTEES \(The Observer has published a portion of the “communism in art” story in Dallas, but here, for the first time in print, is a report on the overall controversy as illuminated most recently in a hushed-up attempt to emasculate the “Family of Man” exhibit. The author is a Dallas writer with authoritative knowledge of DALLAS Intense ballyhooing from the State Fair of Texas lured over 100,000 people away from the Midway and the Automobile Building to see “The Family of Man” at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts during the Fair. “The Family,” acclaimed as the greatest photographic exhibit of all time, remains on view until December 4. But as late as mid-August, when the Fair_ had been grinding out press releases for months and “The Family” had been scheduled to tour from New York to Washington, Minneapolis, Dallas, Cleveland, and abroad, Art Museum trustees sustained sinking spells about exposing Texas and the great .Southwest to the rigors of 503 gigantic photogfaphs from 68 nations picturing man’s life span. Carl Sandburg’s prologue to the exhibit and its catalogue were high on the best seller list; Life magazine and the New York Times launched the national bandwagon for “The Family.” Edward Steichen, dean of American photographers, selected the exhibit from two million photographs from all over the world. The complex “secret” behind the stalemate that kept f-`The Family of Man” virtually intact in Texas has not seen print yet. Dallas liberals have whispered ,parts of -the story all over the state and nation. And there may be an eruption from the right. any day, now that Dallas women’s vigilante groups are opening for fall business. On slow week-days at the museum a clubwomen’s attack would boost attendance. THE FACTS to date are these: . “The Farhily” was approved for Dallas showing at the March 10th meeting of Art Museum trustees, while the exhibit was still drawing unprecedented crowds in New York. It seemed a natural for the State Fair, and Museum Director Jerry Bywaters was able to book the show to open in .October for the Fair. -The tempest broke on the Ides of March, the 15th, with accusations of “communist sympathies” hurled at the Museum. The outcome was the trustees’ reply on April 4th to a local American. Legion post, in which trustees affirmed their Americanism, vowed not to exhibit the works of known communist artists, and promised to study any charges_ of .subversion presented against artists whose works might be shown at the Museum. After that manifesto, trustees rested until their July 1st meetings. Even the Dallas News got tired of agitating the “communism in art” issue. To brighten a dull summer, however, the News began ridiculing the new Dallas Public Library’s metal sculpture. The first alarm about “The Family of Man” was sounded at the July trustee meeting by J. T. Suggs, Texas & Pacific Railway vice-president, legal counsel, and museum trustee since 1947. =It . h a d been Suggs’ duty throughout the spring “communism” ordeal to deal with enraged bluebonnet painters.and Minute Women committees demanding an accounting of their Dallas Museum’s involverrient With the Kremlin.. Suggs had the board’s sympathy when he proposed “a careful look at those .Family of Man pictures before we show them at the Fair.” “I know those people pretty well now,” he told trustees, “and I warn youif we aren’t careful we’ll have them on our necks again.” In his final stand as Board of Trustees ptiesident, Stanley Marcus distracted’the group from further action on “The Family” by reading the current Art News editorial titled “Shame in Dallas,” This outspoken statement from the country’s leading art magazine questioned the wisdom and integrity of the trustees’ April reply to the Legion. Marcus added his own frank disapproval of this trustee action connecting art and politics, and his prediction that the museum would suffer from the manifesto \(issued while Marcus was in Europe on a fashionDuring a lull in an August 2nd trustee meeting, Suggs was elected president, replacing Marcus, whose term as trustee and officer had expired. As his inaugural address, Suggs expressed the hope that the museum could .avoid unhappy newspaper publicity in the coming season. The new president was confronted with his first problem within minutes after his election. A former trustee and art dealer had written the board to ask the return of a painting given to the museum in 1952. The letter was in effect the first test case of the o new policy : the painting demanded was the Photo by “controversial” Diego Rivera portrait which Dallas newspapers had featured in their build-up of the “communism” issue. Rivera’s reputation is surpassed only by Picasso’s in the shadowy realm of artistic subversion. . TRUSTEE wrangling is usullly summarized in the minutes of the meeting as “general discission.” Anyway, it was not pointed out that the Rivera painting had never been displayed before the controversy. The critical concensus is that the painting is a poor one. Trustees finally agreqt to postpone action on the problem add turned almost gratefully to “The Family of Man” issue. Rallying round an advance catalogue of the exhibition, several discovered that a handful of the 500-odd picttires carried credit lines of U.S. S.R. photographers. Then Suggs pointed out the prime offender, the caption : “Eat Bread and Salt and Speak the Truth.Russian Proverb.” That was what scared them back at the August 2r4-meeting. It didn’t take the further discovery of a graphic picture of childbirth and an equally tato alert the assembled trustees to another skirmish. Concrete suggestions for censorship were vetoed, in spite of the president’s recommendation that the exhibit be lightly culled, simply deleting some 12 or 15 pictures “to avoid a lot of trouble.” After a brief inconclusive. debateon whether all Russians are communists, objection was focused on the childbirth and lovers’ pictures and the Joyce quotation. The museum’s responsibility to its public was cited by a matronly emeritus trustee, expressing concern lest the State Fair crowds be led astray by “The Family of Man.” Specific annoyance with the childbirth scene was met with the fact that the Health Museum, not 500 yards from the Art Museum, contains perinanent displays of anatomical reproductive processes. When intramural deadlock was evident, a vague motion to be careful was passed. Only one trustee demanded that his negative vote be recorded and reminded the group that its spring surrender to the American Legion had become national news and further appeasement might well be spotlighted too. It was agreed that public knowledge of the censorship discussion was not desired. The widow of a former Dallas Times-Herald official and the Dallas News’s book editor were the only sttspect trustees present. Each pledged secrecy. But news of the battle, spread quickly. Several trustees took time off from raising funds for the Pdblic Library’s “bunch of junk” sculpture to write and telephone the Museum of Modern Art with the warning that the “Family of Man” wasn’t safe in Dallas’s climate. Some five days after the meeting, the Museum of Modern Art’s circulating exhibits director wrote that Texas censorship of its prize exhibit would not be tolerated. New York’s “take it or leave it” tone would have ruffled the State Fair publicity office, but the Dallas Museum countered by replying that the emasculation rumors were exaggerated and irresponsible. Then a hasty meeting of the trustee exhibitions committee here, in the absence of the president, brought reluctant permission to delete only an “erotic” photograph and the “suggestive” Joyce caption. The committee bravely agreed to display the Russian folk . proverb and the childbirth picture, but preferably in darkened gallery corners. Twenty-four hours after this decision, Steichen telephoned from New York, to ,insist that his exhibition be shown as an. entity. “It wouldn’t have surprised are if this were going on in Vermont or New Hampshire,” he said, “Up in New England they think babies .come out of cabbagesbut in Texas The Museum was able to assure Steichen that the baby birth picture had been approved and that further high-level negotiations among trustees might even bring acceptance of the lovers. Partly pacified, Steichen explained that he had just returned from the Asian opening of “The Family” in Tokyo and, had to leave soon for Munich for the European opening. He said he was ‘sorry he couldn’t come to the Dallas preview in October. MEANWHILE, the Mug seum’s new president went on a mission of his own to Washington, and reports are that he made it his business to visit the U.S. Information Service of the State Department. It is assumed here that he had the tacit approval of his boss, W. G. Vollmer, T&P president and Facts Forum trustee, when Suggs questioned an Information Service clerk about foreign distribution of “The Family.” Word has it that Suggs took time to investigate the clerk before returning to Dallas armed with lists of the photographs reported omitted from the European and Asian “Family” circuit sponsored by the State Department. \(Among these foreign omissions were photographs of a hydrogen bomb explosion and a lynching sceneas well as an obscurely tainted picture of an American matron in riding habit, Suggs also brought back incidental intelligence to document his growing file of artists suspected of subversive affiliations. On September 12 a five-ton van, with about 15,000 pounds of pictures .pulled into Fair Park from Minneapolis. It took six men all day to unload the truck. Even while the photographs were being stacked ip sections Childhood Magic, Faces of War, Rebels, Dreamers, and so oneastern agitation continued in a barrage of queries from New York, asking assurance that the censorship rumor was a myth or regretting that the Dallas show had been cancelled. The censorship story popped up at Planned Parenthood meeting in San Antonia where Steithen’s daughter was a featured speaker. Several Dl-,z.:4;:. las liberals whispered the “scandal” to her; she phoned her father and the Museum got another call from New York. During–the weeks when the exhibition was being arranged and hung and the Fair grounds were blossoming with hot-dog stands in preparation for the onslaught, new details came from Minneapolis and New York on recommendation from Steichen and Washington.. The enigmatic horsewoman picture was among several missing from the traveling show. ALTHOUGH a final private meeting of the trustee exhibitions committee brought approval of the traveling exhibition, except for the erotic photograph and caption, one museum man felt impelled to look for arbitration. In a letter to the president of the American Association of Museums, he ‘requested an investigation of the museum-trustee stalemate under terms of a newly organized national committee on trustee-employee relationships. “No other museum in the United States has had such onerous conditions imposed on it,” he wrote. “It is an attitude opposite to that expressed_ in the American Federation of Arts statement on artistic freedom. There is a dangerous similarity to the conditions. in Germany in 1937 … “I am quite aware that the problem is a local one and for reasons of broad and general welfare of other museums it might be best not to call attention to a condition that exists here. On the other hand, the matter is a serious one that becomes more rotten with time.” So \\far there has been no answer from the American Association of Museumsand they’re still packing them in to see “The Family of Man,” at fifty cents a head now that the Fair is over. But the catalogue has slipped to fourth place on the best seller list, right under Gift from the Sea and Norman Vincent Peale and How. to Live 365 Days a Year. The Texas Observer Page 6 Nov, 9, 1955 FROM ‘THE FAMILY OF MAN’ Eugene HarrisPopular PhotographyU. S. A.