Murals by American Painters and Photographers • Museum of Modern Art – 1932


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For release Monday, Feb. 1, 1932


To give American artists a chance to express their ideas in mural decoration, the Museum of Modern Art will hold an exhibition of mural painting as the opening show in its new quarters at 11 West 53rd Street, according to an announcement just issued by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., director of the Museum.

The exhibition will open shortly after the middle of April.  The direction of the exhibition is in the hands of the Museum’s Advisory Committee, a group of young men and women many of whom have been interested in the Museum since its inception three years ago.  The committee has been working out plans for the show for several weeks.

“The Advisory Committee believes that an exhibition of mural painting will be particularly valuable for the information of many interested architects in New York who are in search of competent decorators for buildings proposed or in construction,” says Lincoln Kirstein, chairman of the exhibition committee.

“We feel that mural painting in America has suffered from a lack of opportunity to assert itself.  Hitherto, mural decoration has been for the most part in the hands of academic painters.  This show will attempt to give younger painters a chance to show their work before a large public.

“We hope the effect of the show will be to stimulate interest in the decoration of walls all over the country.  It is expected that it will at least form the foundation for a new interest in decoration which it is hoped will be more vital and energetic than the inheritance of the imitators of Puvis de Chavannes.”

A number of American painters, to be announced later, have been invited to exhibit.  The list will include contemporary painters of every inclination.  The murals will express the painters’ versions of a “post-war” subject.  Further than this the artists will not be limited to any style or any palette.

The exhibition will continue through June, according to present plans.  Mr. Kirstein is completing arrangements for the show at his office, Room 1208, 545 Fifth Avenue.

The Museum’s forthcoming Exhibition of Modern Architecture, which opens February 10, will be the last to be held in the present galleries at 730 Fifth Avenue.

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April 23, 1932



Murals by forty-nine American painters and photographers will be shown in the exhibition, which will open the new quarters of the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West 53rd Street. The mural exhibition and the Museum’s new home will open to the public on Wednesday, May 4th. The larger gallery comprising the entire second floor and the gallery on the first floor of the five-story residence, into which the Museum has just moved, will be devoted to the murals.

The exhibition, which has been in preparation for several months, has attracted advance comment throughout the country because of the increasing interest in mural decoration. It comes at a time when there is widespread discussion of the problem of who is to do the murals of the nation’s great buildings.

The artists whose work will be shown are all American born, or hold United States citizenship papers. Many of them are young painters who have never had a chance to express their ideas in a wall decoration, although their work has shown their interest in composing decorations on a large scale.


Each artist will be represented by a small three-panel sketch, above which will be hung a panel, four by seven feet, which will be an enlargement of any of the three sections of the sketch. Oil on canvas, tempera on wood panels fresco, ceramic tile, and pastel on celluloid welded between glass, are among the mediums chosen by the artists.

Over sixty artists were invited to exhibit, and thirty-five have submitted canvases and fourteen have experimented with photo-murals. The artists exhibiting are contemporary painters of every inclination, thus ensuring the representative character of the exhibition.

The painters whose work will be shown include: Maurice Becker; Jane Berlandina, whose panel comes from California; Edward Biberman; George Biddle, who sends a fresco from Italy; Henry Billings, whose exhibition in the Squibb Building last year excited wide attention; Louis Bouche, who designed the extraordinary glass room for Wanamaker’s last year; Glenn Coleman; James Darvis, who has invented a new celluloid and glass medium; Stuart Davis; Philip Evergood; Ernest Fiene; Mordi Gassner; Yun Gee; Hugo Gellert; Bertram Goodman; William Gropper.

Yun Gee
Yun Gee with Wheels: Industrial New York
Wheels: Industrial New YorkLarge panel: Wheels: Industrial New York

Yun Gee
Yun Gee, painter and sculptor. Born in Canton, China, 1906. Studied painting under the Chinese master Chu, 1918-19. Came to San Francisco in 1921. Studied at the California Art School, 1923-25. Founded the Revolutionary Art Club, 1926. Left for Paris, 1927. One-man shows, Galerie Carmine, and Bernheim-Jeune. Returned to New York in 1930.

TripMOMAStudy for three-part composition:
left: Merry-Go-Round
center: Sun Bathers
right: Modern Apartment

Medium: oil on canvas

Stefan Hirsch, who sends his panel from Mexico; Morris Kantor; Karl Knaths; Benjamin Kopman; Thomas LaFarge; Edward Laning; Monty Lewis; William Littlefield; Reginald Marsh; Jan Matulka; Kimon Nicolaides; Georgia O’Keeffe; Henry Varnum Poore, who is experimenting with tiles as a medium; Philip Reisman; Ben Shahn; Maurice Sterne, who as a sculptor did the great pioneer memorial in Worcester, Mass; Byron Thomas; Franklin Chenault Watkins, the prize-winner of the Carnegie International exhibition at Pittsburgh last December; and Thomas M. Wood.

The photographers include: Berenice Abbott; Maurice Bratter; Hendrick V. Duryea and Robert E. Locher; Arthur Gerlach; Emma H. Little and Joella Levy; George Platt Lynes; William M. Rittase; Thurman Rotan; Charles Sheeler; Stella Simon; Edward Steichen; Luke H. Swank.

Commenting on the mural show, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Director of the Museum, said; “This exhibition marks an important innovation in the program of the Museum of Modern Art. So far as I know, no museum has ever attempted to assemble such a comprehensive group of large mural paintings and photo-murals so that the public may have a chance to make comparisons.”

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