Thursday, October 19, 2017

Up Close: Cornwell's LA Library Murals

Dean Cornwell (1892-1960) was one of the most important American illustrators from around the time of the Great War into the 1950s (short biography here). But, as I posted here, like Edwin Austin Abbey and John Singer Sargent, Cornwell was seduced by the concept that murals were the road to artistic immortality (think Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling).

So in the later 1920s Cornwell spent time studying mural painting under Frank Brangwyn. Some of this style rubbed off on his illustration work, as I pointed out here.

When the city of Los Angeles had a new Public Library built, part of the concept was to include a good deal of interior art, as mentioned here. Included was a set of murals by Cornwell. The library's web site has a page dealing with him and his murals, including mention of critical appraisals.

Not long ago I came across some photos I took of the murals back in 2010. I used some tools on my iMac to enhance what were images of dubious quality. The better results are presented below. Because I fiddled with brightness, contrast, sharpness and the colors themselves, I suggest you pay more attention to Cornwell's compositions and drawing than to colors.


This is the setting I had to work with ... murals mounted high with bright sunlight nearby.

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