American Murals

There are two distinct traditions in North American mural painting: works executed on walls inside a building, and works painted on outside surfaces. In general, interior murals depict  ideas and virtues that contribute to the well-being of the community. They can also celebrate the achievements of that community. 

William de Leftwich Dodge, Talents Diversified…

Hugo Ballin, The Four Freedoms

Murals on exterior walls are often expressions of social protest or appeals for humanitarian understanding and social justice:

Diego Rivera, Pan-Pacific Unity

Juana Alicia, La Llorona

James Burns, Finding the Light Within

Marc Nicely, We Are Still Here

Unlike easel paintings, which are most often executed for a private patron,  murals are emphatically a public art form. Since their narratives are meant to instruct and please a widely diverse  population, their stories must be immediately comprehensible, and not require written or verbal explanations by experts — though such explanations may help reveal some of the less obvious elements in the narratives.



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