Essay: Muralism and the Art of Mural Painting

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Muralism is term which is used to identify an art movement which developed in Mexico in the first decades of the XX century which involve the production of large scale paintings known as murals. The term can also be used in a general sense to refer to a type of mural painting which deals with social or political content. In this thesis I will use the second meaning of the word because it alloweds my to refer by just ending a adjutivet to refer either to the mexican or the sardinian movemetn.

Around the second half of the XX century muralism, the art of painting social and political content on walls developed in other parts of the world. In the untied states at the end of the 1960 developed the Chicano mural movement, as a tool for the Latino minorities living in the country to express them self. In Chile after the military coup of 1973 developed a Chilean movement (Rolstone, 2014, p.6). Other movements are the

The art of Mural painting

Mural painting is the art of painting an image on a wall or a ceiling. It is an art which is highly related to architecture. From a historic point of view, the two have always been united serving each other in order to meet a particular spatial experience, in fact until the XVIII century every great style in architecture has had a corresponding style in mural painting. It is just since the 19th century under influence of industrialisation that the two have start to drift apart and become more separate (Feibusch, 1946, p.18).

It is also a form of public art since mural-paintings are set in the public space and are accessible to everyone. Contemporary art displayed in museums is understandable only to specialized groups of people leaving a big part of the audience out. Public art on the contrary, is accessible to everyone, both in the sense of physical reachability and of understanding. It is a form of art made with and for the community and talks about things people know (Miles, 1997, p.1-3).

Mural painting differs from modern forms of wall related arts such as graffiti or writing. Mural painting has a long tradition and history which goes back to the beginning of human civilization. They represent complete drawings and speak about the values and beliefs of local communities. By contrast graffiti and writing are recent phenomena, which developed only in the last decades of the XX century. They represent stylized signatures and express the feelings of an individual artists (Camera, 2013, p.23).

The History of mural painting

In this paragraph I will give an overview of the development of the mural painting in the western society, from the Greco-Roman period until 1900.

Greco-Roman murals achieved complete three dimension, perfect roundness of figures modelled in colour, light and shade, and extensive use of perspective.

Represented were decorative elements such as landscapes and still-lifes and architectural elements as windows, doors, loggias and pillars which were meant to make space appear larger. this practice called trompe-l’oeil which in French mean deception of the eye, will be brought to its perfection in the Baroque by Tiepolo (Feibusch, 1946, p.24-25).

In Byzantine art the expression of monumentality and the supernatural become the most important thing. Murals become flat. Figures are stylised and the backgrounds are flatten out. The background becomes of just one colour a represent an infinite transcendental space in which figures flow.

The compositions become symmetrical whit usually the most important figure placed at the centre.

and emphasised by size (Feibusch, 1946 p.25-26).

During the middle-ages the construction of a depth is back, figures acquire again a sculptural quality.

The background

Key masters are Cimabue, Duccio and Giotto. Giotto is a key artist who forms a threshold between

medieval art and Renaissance art. Giotto depict a measurable spaces. Figures even if they are

sculptural are still flat because of the thick outline. The composition always moves upward or sidewards.

Piero della Francesca is the last artist who made flat murals. which runs parallel to the wall

and not in it.

Slowly from the Middle-age a practice developed witch actualize itself during Renaissance, the

breaking throw the wall, making the illusion of a spaces behind it. At the beginning of the

Renaissance perspective was theorized and largely applied to mural painting. The perspective was

always one point and aimed to the unification of architectural elements in the picture. First niches

and shallow rooms were depicted. Mantenga is one of the first we experimented with this new device.

The perspective form of representation had some problems because it worked only from a certain

view point. To solve this problems an imaginary view point was introduced.

During baroque artist start to strive to the create the illusion of an infinite spaces. Not only artist

strive to it but also architecture itself. With baroque we have the climax of this purchase. Tiepolo

brought this art to its maximum.

There is the question how to treat them as flat, as relief, as rounded surfaces or openings involves

great differences in execution and some difficulties of the first magnitude. It does not have a upper or

under part. Must be understood from where it s looked. By renaissance and Byzantines these was

solved by painting the figures flat on the surface in and arranging them in concentric circles..

sometimes they cut up the surface by a diagonal line using the base of thus created triangles as the

bottom of a separate picture. Some artist just ignore theme paint like their were vertical and need to

be seen from one side only, than there are artist who start from one side and let the figures grow

throw the centre of the ceiling. Other cover all with medallions or in many small pictures. Or by

making figures standing upward and giving the impressions of the continuation of architecture.

Great changes in style were always characterized by new representations of space. How this in turn

were the always the outcome of changing religious and scientific attitude. Byzantine and medieval

stretched vertically between heaven and earth was adequate represented in a two dimensional art. The

Renaissance with interest in all direction had a clearly modelled 3 dimensional space in which every

object had it proper place and stability. The baroque idea was one of a moment into infinity one

might say in the early days space is immeasurable but only in us; in the Renaissance it becomes a

measurable thing outside us, in the baroque infinite again, outside but drawing us into itself. The

felling our time is again infinity. but in which we are here and far away at the same time. In the

baroque the movement is stressed while in modern art its the bridging of distance of the object,

which is done by mechanical means and often so quickly we are at two spaces at the same time, great

distances and complete nearness at the same time which is so characteristic for our time (Feibusch,

1946, p.25-38).

In the Baroque and Rococo mural painting and architecture were put toghter in order to create fluid composition in which walls and ciling open to the infinite.

There is a big difference between vertical and horizontal paintings. Horizontal paintings do not have an under or an upper part. (Feibusch, 1946, p.25-38).

Murals

Murals

Mexican

Sardinian

location

Inside

Outside

Ownership

Public

private

Techniques

Encaustic/fresco/mosaic

Oil/acrylic

Themes/content

Ethnic

Function

Creation Mexican art

Express own identity

Style

Figurative/realistic

Figurative/realistic/

Composition

A mural is an image painted or applied directly onto a wall or a ceiling (brittanica).

One of the elements which distinguish mural painting from other forms of painting is its connection to the context. The context of a mural is architectural, environmental and socialt.

The architectural context is formed by building. The limits of the building form the limits of the painting. The environmental context are the site specific conditions such as light and shade. Light and shade which falls on the wall influence the appearance of colours.

The social context is formed by the community for which the mural is meant to. The content of a mural relate to the history and believes of people of a certain area.

(Cockroft, 1998, p.239).

When a mural is detached from its context something what sometimes happens when a mural is moved into a museum it original intentions are lost.

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