Sunday, May 30, 2010

Coit Tower Murals, Telegraph Hill

During the Great Depression, the Public Works Art Project (PWAP), part of the US Federal Goverment New Deal program, led to the creation of a wonderful set of murals in Coit Tower. Bernard Zakheim oversaw the project that included over two dozen artits and muralists. The murals depict aspects of California and San Francisco life during the 1930s and were very controversial at the time, with the inspiration of Diego Rivera is plainly visible in many of them.

Zakheim, himself, painted 'Library'

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'Library' (detail) by Bernard Zakheim

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'Library' (detail) by Bernard Zakheim

'City Life' by Victor Mikhail Arnautoff is one of the more detailled murals showing many aspects of San Francisco life and city landmarks.


Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco

'City Life' (detail) by Victor Mikhail Armautoff

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'City Life' (detail) by Victor Mikhail Armautoff

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'City Life' (detail) by Victor Mikhail Armautoff

'California Agriculture' by Maxine Albro sits alongside Arnautoff's city view.

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
partial view of 'California Architecture' by Maxine Albro

Clifford Wight painted four large figures of a cowboy, farmer, steelworker and surveyor, titled, 'Leaders of California Life'.

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
view of the cowboy from 'Leaders of California Life' by Clifford Wight

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
partial view of the farmer from 'Leaders of California Life' by Clifford Wight

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
farmer hand detail from 'Leaders of California Life' by Clifford Wight

Commerce is represented with this mural showing a selection of shops. This image also showshow many of the muralists incorporated the features of the tower into their works. In case, like the 'Library' previously incorporates the tower's narrow windows.

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco

Industry is represented by Ralph Stackpole's 'Industries of California' and John Langley Howard's 'California Industrial Scenes'.

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'Industries of California' (detail) by Ralph Stackpole

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'California Industrial Scenes' (detail) by John Langley Howard

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'California Industrial Scenes' (detail) by John Langley Howard

Our tour, by San Francisco City Guides included the murals on the second floor and in the stairwell that are not otherwise accessible by the general public.

The stairwell features Lucien Labaudt's 'Powell St' showing the scene around the cable car that all visitors to San Francisco will be familiar with.

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
partial view of 'Powell St' by Lucien Labaudt

At the top of the stairs, Edward Terada depicts 'Sports' and 'Children at Play'.

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'Sports' (detail) by Edward Terada

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'Sports' (detail) by Edward Terada

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
partial view of 'Children at Play' by Edward Terada

A small room on the second floor presents Coit Tower's perhaps most enigmatic murals. 'Home Life' by Jane Berlandina offers a starkly different style to the other murals representing domestic life in the 30's.

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'Home Life' (detail) by Jane Berlandina

Coit Tower Mural, San Francisco
'Home Life' (detail) by Jane Berlandina


References:
Coit Tower & PWAP Murals on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco
Coit Tower and the History of Its Murals
San Francisco’s Coit Tower Murals
The Murals Tour - Coit Tower

6 comments:

  1. Great post. I lived in SF about 30 years ago and had forgot how much I enjoyed the murals. Nice to see them again.

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  2. These murals are amazing - the variety and the detail and what they project about those difficult times. Interesting that public art was given such prominence in those days. I love the children at play as well as the man in the armchair

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  3. Thanks Janet. F D Roosvelt used his 1930s 'stimulus package' to create these sorts projects all over the US.

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  4. I worked many years with Edward Terada's daughter Kunimi Terada, who is now an accomplished painter herself.

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