Charles Dean Cornwell

The Artwork of Dean Cornwell

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in March of 1892, Charles Dean Cornwell was an illustrator and muralist who was a dominant presence in American illustration during the first half of the twentieth- century. He began his professional career at the age of eighteen as a cartoonist for the Louisville Herald. In 1911, Cornwell found employment with the art department of the Chicago Tribune and began studies at the Chicago Art Institute where he studied under educator and painter Harvey Dunn, a prominent student of illustrator Howard Pyle and a member of the Brandywine School collective.

In 1915, Dean Cornwell traveled to New Rochelle, New York, well known for its established art colony, and studied under Dunn at the Art Students League in New York City where he eventually developed his own light-imbued style. In 1918 in Chicago, Cornwell married artist Mildred Montrose Kirkham, who also studied at the Chicago Art Institute. They had two children; however, due to Cornwell’s constant extramarital affairs, they separated after a few years but never divorced.

Possessing a strong work ethic, Cornwell often worked seventeen hours a day and through the entire week. His illustrations appeared in nearly every major publication in the United States including Redbook, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping. In 1926, Cornwell signed a long-term contract with Cosmopolitan for an annual salary of one-hundred thousand dollars, equivalent to over a million dollars today.

Dean Cornwell illustrated the novels of authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Pearl S. Buck, W. Somerset Maugham, and short story writer Edna Ferber. He also illustrated posters to support the United States war efforts in three major conflicts, the Korean War effort and both the first and second World Wars. Through his career, Cornwell  did advertising for hundreds of companies including General Motors, the Pennsylvania Railroad, Goodyear, and New York Life; he also illustrated ads for such products as Coca-Cola, Seagram’s Gin, and Palmolive Soap. 

Deciding to dedicate the rest of his career to mural painting, Cornwell  traveled  to London in 1927, where he apprenticed to the painter Sir Frank William Brangwyn for a three-year study of mural painting. He assisted Brangwyn in a series of murals, including the British Empire Panels designed for the House of Lords. These panels, begun in 1925 and completed in 1932, were not hung in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords as intended. Considered too lively and colorful, the panels were housed in a specially built hall in Swansea. 

The most renowned of Dean Cornwell’s murals is the Los Angeles Public Library’s  twelve-panel “History of California” which encircles the Grand Rotunda. Painted on linen canvases and finished in 1933,  the forty-foot tall panels took five years to complete. Cornwell, having used all the funding after two years, took on illustrative work to finance the project to its completion. His other murals include, among others, those for the General Motors exhibition at the 1939 World’s Fair, New York’s Hotel Warwick’s Raleigh Room, the Easter Airlines building (now 10 Rockefeller Plaza), Boston’s New England Telephone headquarters building, and the William Rappard Center in Geneva, Switzerland.

Cornwell lectured and taught at New York’s Art Students League. From 1922 to 1926, he served as the president of the Society of Illustrators and was elected into its Hall of Fame in 1959. Cornwall was elected in `923 into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician and achieved full status in 1940. He served as President of the National Society of Mural Painters for four years beginning in 1953. Charles Dean Cornwell died at the age of sixty-eight in New York City on December 4th of 1960. A collection of his papers, correspondence, sketches, scrapbooks and photographs are housed in the Archives of American Art located in the Victor Building in Washington, DC. 

Note: A very extensive article on Dean Cornwell, complete with family history, can be found at the PulpArtists website:

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Dean Cornwell in Studio”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Inset Image: Dean Cornwell, “Study of a Boy, for Water Mural”, 1927-33, Pastel and Charcoal Pencil on Paper, 58.4 x 38.1 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Dean Cornwell, Los Angeles Public Library”, 1933, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Dean Cornwell, “Study of a Boy, for Water Mural”, 1927-33, Pastel and Charcoal Pencil on Paper, Dimensions and Location Unknown

Edwin Austin Abbey

Edwin Austin Abbey, “Sir Gahahad Becomes King of Sarras”, Panel from “The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail”, 1895-1902, Mural with Fifteen Panels, Abbey Room, Boton Public Library

Edwin Austin Abbey was an American muralist, illustrator and painter He flourished at the beginning of the golden age of illustration. Abbey is best knwon for his drawings and paintings of Victorian and Shakespearean subjects. His most famous set of murals was his work “The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail”, which adorns the walls of the Boston Public Library.

Edwin Austin Abbey was a young, highly regarded illustrator for “Harper’s Monthly” magazine, but had never completed any work in oil paint when he was approached for the mural commission. In 1890, Abbey and John Singer Sargent dined with Charles Follen McKim, Stanford White, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens in New York, where architect McKim convinced him to consider painting a mural cycle in the Boston Public Library’s Book Delivery Room.

Upon visiting the library during its construction with McKim, Abbey agreed to undertake the project and signed a contract to complete the work for $15,000 in 1893. Abbey selected a subject of “legendary romance” in The Quest for the Holy Grail, basing his work upon Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s version of the Arthurian tale. It took Abbey eleven years to complete al the murals for the project.

Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera, “The Maize Festival”, 1923-1924, Fresco Mural, Secretariat of Public Education Main Headquarters, Mexico City, Mexico.

The Maize Festiaval mural was painted on the south wall of the Ministry of Public Education in Mexico City. It was part of a series of paintings done between 1923 and 1928 by Diego Rivera in his first major large-scale mural project.

The themes center around workers, and the glorification of all things Mexican, especially the Mexican Revolution. Rivera named the two courtyards “Labor Courtyard” and the other the “Fiesta Courtyard” based on the themes he painted in each. Because he was affiliated with the Communist Party at the time, Rivera painted small hammers and sickles next to his signature on the panels in this building.

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Mitchell Siporin

Mitchell Siporin, “Endless Voyage”, 1946, Oil on Canvas, University of Iowa Museum of Art

Mitchell Siporin was a social realist artist who focused on labor issues. After his family moved to Chicago, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (Crane College), and in the early 1930s he worked as an illustrator for Esquire, The New Masses, and Ringmaster. Siporin gained early attention for his Haymarket series of drawings illustrating a notorious labor riot in Chicago in 1886 (1932–35).

From 1937 to 1942 he painted public murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), including a mural for in a St. Louis post office that was the largest single government commission. It is among the few WPA projects to show social conflict. Siporin was represented in the Century of Progress exhibition at the New York World’s Fair of 1939, and after the U.S. entered the conflict of World War II he joined the army, serving in North Africa and Italy.

He received a Guggenheim Fellowship (1945) and the Prix de Rome for painting (1949). Siporin began teaching as director of the summer school program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1948. He founded the Department of Fine Arts at Brandeis University in 1954, where he taught until shortly before his death.

J Hus, “Did You See”

J Hus, “Did You See”, 2017, From the Album “Common Sense”

Momodou Jallow, known by his stage name J Hus, is an English rapper and singer signed to Black Butter records. He is best known for his 2017 single entitled “Did You See” which charted at number 9 on the UK Singles Chart. He released his debut album “Common Sense” which went straight to number 3 on the iTunes chart, peaking at number 6 on the UK Albums Chart.

Hitting the Road: Jack

Photographer Unknown, (Hitting the Road: Jack)

“Hit the Road Jack” is a song written by the rhythm and blues artist Percy Mayfield and first recorded in 1960 as an a cappella demo sent to  Art Rupe. It became famous after it was recorded by the singer-songwriter-pianist Ray Charles with The Raelettes vocalist Margie Hendrix.

Charles’s recording hit number one for two weeks on the Billlboard Hot 100, beginning on Monday, October 9, 1961. “Hit the Road Jack” won a Grammy award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. The song was number one on the R&B Sides chart for five weeks, thereby becoming Charles’s sixth number-one on that chart. The song is ranked number 387 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

Gerald Mast

Gerald mast, Clare Middle School Murals, 1938, Right Central Panel of Four, Clare, Michigan

Born in Topeka, Indiana, in 1908, Gerald Mast was a painter, graphic artist, designer and educator. He studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, and at Detroit’s School of Arts and Crafts, under modernist painter and educator John Carroll, who was associated with the Ash Can school artists. As an educator, Mast taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and was a Professor at the College of Architecture and Design of the University of Michigan at Grand Rapids from 1948 until his death in 1971. 

Gerald Mast was a member of the Works Progress Administration,   a New Deal federal agency which, from 1936 to 1943, carried out public works projects from building and road construction to public art projects. He produced murals for the Franklin Settlement in Detroit; the Bronkema Center in Grand Rapids; and the Harrick Public Library in Holland, Michigan. Executed in 1938 at the Detroit Institute of the Arts over a period of two years, his best known murals  are the four large panels installed in the now Middle School of Clare, Michigan. 

Mast’s four large, vertical panels, each twenty feet in height by eight feet in width, are installed on the north wall of Clare Middle School’s auditorium. The murals show agriculture, academics, the local trades, and the oil and gas industry, all of which were unique to the area when Mast arrived to complete his work; these mural received restoration in 2004. 

The two outer murals in the auditorium are dominated by a woman on the left panel and a man on the right panel. The nude woman,  holding a sheet in front of her, is standing before scenes of prosperous agriculture; the nude man, also holding a sheet, is seen standing before scenes of buildings and oil wells. The right central panel depicts scientists in front of classical thinkers. The left central panel depicts athletes, musicians, children, and nurses, with farmers and agricultural goods in the foreground. All of the subjects in the murals display unsmiling, grim determination.

Gerald Mast exhibited his work at the Detroit Institute of Arts from 1943 to 1963; the Great Lakes Exhibiton of 1938; the Rhode Island School of Design; Indianapolis’ Herron Art Institute from 1930 to 1964; and the National Ecclesiastical Exhibition in Birmingham, Michigan, among others. Executed under the WPA program, Gerald Mast’s 1938 ceramic sculpture, “Sea Nymph” is installed at the University of Michigan. 

Gerald Mast died on August 10, 1971 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Smithsonian Museum’s Archives of American Art contains his correspondence and writings, family photographs, several sketchbooks and loose sketches, exhibition catalogues, and writings, which include his manuscripts for “Egg Tempera” and “Philosophy of Art”. 

Insert Image: Gerald Mast, Untitled, 1964, Lithograph on Paper, Edition of 35, Private Collection

Howard S Sewall

Howard S. Sewall, “In the Garden”, Oil on Canvas, 1937, Timberline Lodge, Oregon

Timberline Lodge is a mountain lodge on the south side of Mount Hood in Clackamas County, Oregon, about 60 miles (97 km) east of Portland. Constructed from 1936 to 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, it was built and furnished by local artisans during the Great Depression.

Howard S. Sewall was born in Minneapolis, MN, in 1899 and moved to Oregon in 1920. From the 1930s to the early 1940s, Sewall taught at the Salem Art Center and at various art studios in Portland and also worked as a WPA artist.

Sewell is well known for his abstract mural paintings which include images of common working people. Two murals depicting iron and wood workers are in the Timberline Lodge collection and Sewall painted sixteen murals for Oregon City High School in the 1930s. Sewall also produced textiles and hand loomed rugs. He died of cancer in 1975.

John Augustus Walker

John Augustus Walker, “Science and Invention”, Mural, 1935

John Augustus Walker (1901-1967) was a well-known Alabama Gulf Coast artist of the Depression era who was commissioned to undertake several art projects for the Works Progress Administration. Walker’s preferred subject matter ranged from Mardi Gras, fantasy and historical themes to landscapes and portraiture.

The murals are on display in the History Museum of Mobile lobby located in Mobile, Alabama.

Edgar Flores (SANER)

Murals and Paintings by Edgar Flores (SANER)

Edgar Flores was born in 1981 in Mexico City, where he is currently based. As a child he developed an interest in drawing and Mexican muralism and began expressing himself through graffiti in the late 1990s. In 2004, Flores received a degree in graphic design from Universidad Autónoma de México. His work has been exhibited in galleries worldwide including Barcelona, Berlin, London, New York and Mexico City. In 2014 he had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Luis Potosí in Mexico.

Cacaxtia’s Venus Temple

Detail of Battle Mural in Cacaxtia’s Venus Temple

Cacaxtla is the name of a Late Classic to Epiclassic (AD 600-900) city in the Puebla Valley, Tlaxcala, Mexico. It was a sprawling palace containing vibrantly colored murals painted in unmistakable Maya style. The nearby site of Xochitecatl was a more public ceremonial complex associated with Cacaxtla. Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl prospered 650-900 CE, probably controlling important trade routes through the region with an enclave population of no more than 10,000  Olmeca-Xicalanca people.

The most famous of Cacaxtla’s preserved paintings is the “Battle Mural”, or Mural de la Batalla, located in the northern plaza of the basamento. Dating from prior to 700, it is placed on the sloping limestone wall of a temple base and is split in two by a central staircase. It depicts two groups of warriors locked in battle: on the one side are jaguar warriors, armed with spears, obsidian knives, and round shields, who are locked in battle with an army of bird warriors (some of whom are shown naked and in various stages of dismemberment).

Dean Cornwell

Two Murals by Dean Cornwell, The Raleigh Room of the Warwick Hotel, 68 West 54th Street, New York City, 1937

Dean Cornwell was an American illustrator and muralist. His oil paintings were frequently featured in popular magazines and books as literary illustrations, advertisements, and posters promoting the war effort. Throughout the first half of the 20th century he was a dominant presence in American illustration. At the peak of his popularity he was nicknamed the “Dean of Illustrators”.

In 1937 William Randolph Hearst commissioned Cornwell to create murals for The Raleigh Room, the restaurant inside his new residential hotel. Cornwell complied with a series of scenes of the life of Raleigh, depicting the explorer-courtier throwing down his cloak over a mud puddle for Queen Elizabeth, receiving a charter from her, and landing on Roanoke Island. After Cornwell had completed the murals, however, he and Hearst disagreed about compensation, and in revenge, the artist added obscene elements to the paintings, including an Indian with bare buttocks and men urinating on both Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth. Fortunately, he painted out these elements once the dispute was resolved. Over time the murals darkened, but they were brilliantly restored in a renovation in 2004.


Street Art by DELeast

ALeast was born in 1984 in Wuhan, China and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa. He studied Sculpture at the Institute of Fine Arts and began making art in public spaces in 2004. His murals can be found in cities around the world including the U.S., Switzerland, Namibia, France, Israel, Australia and China.

The dark imagery found in DALeast’s art is undeniably captivating, woven with intricate detail while focusing on the simple subjects in his pieces. Each of his pieces of art is created using paint to look like thousands of metal shards are coming together to form beautiful shapes, often animals or humans. Within every piece of DALeast’s art, a pop of color observed in the background brings his subject to life. This allows him to focus on the intricacy of his technique while delivering his final product. The use of fractured imagery and contrasting backgrounds serve to give his art a breath of energy and soul that can sometimes be lost in art with a more somber subject matter.

A majority of DALeast’s art utilizes animals as the subject matter. In many of his works, less pronounced line work in the background serves as a shadowing effect for the images illustrated in the forefront. The overall artistic effect of utilizing a dark base while simultaneously highlighting in fragmented, brighter lines is to make the images appear to leap off the wall or canvas; It is the artist’s skillful layering of lines that leads the viewer to be able to visually interpret the image in many different ways.

Nouvelle Vague, “In a Manner of Speaking”

Nouvelle Vague, “In a Manner of Speaking”, Live in Lisbon

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

I started this blog in February and have passed 500 followers with many more people visiting and even more liking my posts. My thanks to all. I will try my best to keep it interesting and filled with images, songs and art to enjoy. My thanks also to all those blogs which I visited and those from which I reblogged posts. You have added new things to my life. My best wishes to you.

Jared French

Jared French, “Lunchtime with Early Miners”, 1938, Mural in the Plymouth US Post Office Building in Pennsylvania, New Deal Public Woks of Art Project

Nudity was to be avoided, and Treasury Department Section Director Edward Bruce was emphatic about this point. “Anybody who wanted to paint a nude ought to have his head examined!” he declared. Bruce’s officials were quick to advise artists to remove or tone down anything that might be deemed risqué. Once again, however, depictions of Native Americans proved to be an exception to the rule. Artists who specialized in figurative art could portray muscular, nearly naked Native Americans in poses deemed inappropriate for whites.

Jared French (1905–1987), an artist who devised an unusual pictorial language to explore human unconsciousness and its relation to sexuality, could not resist testing the boundaries. In 1937, he was working on two post office murals, one for Plymouth, Luzerne County, and the second for Richmond, Virginia. For the Richmond commission, he proposed depicting a group of Confederate soldiers in various states of undress preparing to cross a stream to flee advancing Union forces. The Section advised French that the figures must be clothed. “You have painted enough nudes in your life so that the painting of several more or less should not matter in your artistic career,” wrote a Section administrator. French capitulated on the Richmond mural—he wanted to be paid after all—but as a final jab at Rowan and the Section, he did manage to paint one more nude.

Before finishing the Plymouth mural, “Mealtime with the Early Coal Miners”, French inserted into the background a male figure piloting a barge, inexplicably unclothed. The nude pilot, like the union buttons of the railcar workers, went undetected by Treasury Department officials. The offending image appeared too small to be detected in the final eight-by-ten-inch photographs, and “Mealtime” became the only example of full-frontal nudity in a United States post office.

Note: For those interested in more information on Jared French, I recommend Emily Sachar’s “Jared French’s State Park: A Contextual Study”, which was submitted for he Master of Arts degree. It includes a chapter of French’s artistic circle of friends, including his freindship with Paul Cadmus, as well as several images of French’s most notable works. The article can be found at:

Stockholm Subway System

The Underground Art of the Stockholm Subway System

Certain stations in Stockholm’s T-Bana system, primarily along the city’s Blue Line, are singularly spectacular due to the city’s geology. Due to characteristics of the bedrock beneath the watery city, instead of boring, the metro’s stations and tunnels are simply blasted away – oddly fitting in the birthplace of Alfred Nobel. As a result, the system’s stations are grand cavernous spaces not wholly unlike certain Washington stations in scale, but, with the bedrock left exposed, they feature an eerie, cave-like atmosphere.

T-Centralen is the metro’s central station, located directly under downtown, where the system’s three lines meet. The older station, servicing the Red and Green lines, is rather utilitarian. But the connected Blue Line platforms form an extraordinary cavern covered in abstract patterns in bright blue and white designed by Swedish artist Per Olov Ultveldt in 1975.

Kungsträdgården station  takes a different tack, giving the sense of a Roman archaeological dig. Water drips down the walls behind statuary. Walking across a bridge near one entrance to the station, you look down into an overgrown garden of columns and fallen finials. The bedrock walls are left mostly exposed, hidden only by bold murals in red and green and black and white.

Solna Centrum station, farther outside the city center, is blindingly red. As seen in green and black murals along the track’s edge, Solna Centrum is meant to evoke the country’s spruce forests and the towns that harvested their lumber.