Murals and frescoes in greater Los Angeles 1900 -1950

PhD Thesis

Collings, J 2011. Murals and frescoes in greater Los Angeles 1900 -1950. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Architecture and the Visual Arts
AuthorsCollings, J
TypePhD Thesis

Murals are a highly prominent aspect of Los Angeles present day. The purpose of this study is to investigate the history and cultural production of early murals in greater Los Angeles, many of which still exist within interiors of old commercial and public buildings, together with a few external political murals from the 1930's. Little of this
period has been previously documented and the scope of the study includes a short general history of American mural painting preceding the main period of focus which presents a survey of mural painting in the city from origin c.1900, and develops on the patrons and artists aligned with the city's history and political unrest prevalent in the
United States throughout this period. My main conclusions revealed that unlike other cities in the U.S., Los Angeles does not have a history of Beaux-Arts murals; rather the
mural movement sprang from the rapid development, commercialization and capitalization of the city from c.1900 to the late 1920's. During the Great Depression, the federal government took over sponsorship of the arts, and because capitalism as an economic system appeared to have failed, many artists became politicized; furthermore
Mexican artists Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco strongly influenced many American artists during the 1920s and 30s, aesthetically and politically.
Among the issues the thesis examines in some depth includes the development over these Los Angeles years of the methods by which mural art was integrated into particular locations and the identities of public and private architectural formations.
This establishes the collaboration between artists and architects and the way that some architects decided to push hard for its continuation, with artists devising a wealth of
contrasting images. There is the expansion of urbanism, together with huge commercialization and the examination of creative street art. With the roots of the Depression the role of the state is identified and discussed, together with its major effects on Los Angeles mural artists, the role of various artists also identified together with a deep exploration of political convictions and their problematic outcomes. This is a marker on the way this inner city and its suburbs formed, and is original in displaying the visual terms of Greater Los Angeles and its mural outcomes in the first half of the twentieth century.

KeywordsMurals; Los Angeles
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Deposited07 Oct 2013
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