Mural a Click Away
By Lookout Staff
August 5 – You don’t need to take a trip to
the Santa Monica Public Library to view a sprawling mural by Stanton
Macdonald-Wright that was in storage for 40 years. Now the entire
work spanning 2,000 square feet is just a click away.
The library’s new website
features the history of the mural, a sliding presentation of its
38 panels depicting 160 historical and mythological figures and
photographs of the work and its artist, who lived in Santa Monica.
|Stanton Macdonald-Wright at
the unveiling of the murals in the reading room of the Santa
Monica Library. Circa 1930s (Photos courtesy of City of Santa
The website also features a facsimile of the catalogue in which
the artist described the mural’s creation and narrative themes,
information on its original and contemporary installations as well
as the mural’s conservation.
Visitors to the site can use an exploration tool that allows them
to zoom in on details of the mural, which highlights what Macdonald-Wright
considered to be the two most important facets of human development
-- technology and creativity. Visitors are also invited to share
their memories of the mural, past and present.
Long separated on opposite coasts, the mural, created by the artist
between 1934 and 1935 for one of the original city libraries, depicts
the course of human development, from primitive man to 1930s Hollywood.
The mural cycle was on view in the library’s reading room
for 30 years before it was transferred to the federal government
and stored for four decades at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
in Washington, D.C.
The mural came home in 2005, when the City was awarded a California
Cultural and Historical Endowment grant to conserve and re-install
the Library Mural in the new Main Library, then under construction.
Following its conservation in 2005, the Library Mural was re-installed
in the new Main Library, which opened in January 2006.
“The mural adds color and character to the second floor of
the Library,” said City Librarian Greg Mullen. “It also
provides a link to the history of Santa Monica and the Library.
“It’s clear that the decision to bring the mural back
to the new Library after so many years is of great significance
to the community, and we appreciate the loan of the mural from the
Smithsonian American Art Museum.”
Along with fellow artist Morgan Russell, Macdonald-Wright created
a style of art known as “Synchronism,” which emphasizes
the brilliant use of color as a means of expression.
Other local works by Macdonald-Wright include a terrazzo mural
in the Santa Monica City Hall foyer, as well as "Entrance of
the Gods into Valhalla," which serves as the fire curtain at
Santa Monica High School's Barnum Hall.
For more information, visit the Stanton Macdonald-Wright Library
Mural website at www.smpl.org/mural.