Painting Conflict: The National Agenda of Mural Painting

By Johanna Ruohonen.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Public art has often flourished as an expression of new governing ideologies and in societies struggling to survive trauma and conflict. In this paper I discuss the multiple uses of the 20th century public painting in the service of power, addressing the differences between mural production and the more explicitly commemorative activity of producing monuments and memorials. This paper focuses on the national agendas behind the production of murals through examples from New Deal American and post-war Finnish mural painting. In Finland, a vast number of memorial sculptures were produced throughout the 1950’s to commemorate the
losses of the past wars, whereas contemporary murals depicted an idealized present and suggested an optimistic future. In the United States, the New Deal murals focused on a state of prosperity, bypassing the Depression as a
momentary phenomenon. Investigating the imagery of the murals and the processes of their production I discuss how the paintings were used in promoting and producing national ideologies.

Keywords: Public Art, Mural Painting, Art Policy, Art Patronage, Nationalism, Memory, Commemoration

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.61-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 519.437KB).

Johanna Ruohonen

Researcher, Art History, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

Ms. Ruohonen is a researcher in Art History at the University of Turku, Finland, preparing a PhD thesis on public painting.

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