By Heather Becker
Between 1903 and 1943, political, economic, and social forces united to bring art to the people, through public programs funded by the government. Influenced often by the work of the great Mexican muralists—Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—and painted by men and women from all walks of life, the 438 rediscovered Chicago Public School murals recall a forgotten period of vast social change, a time when ideals were debated in the public domain. Through depictions that cover a broad prospect of American life and social history—from agricultural and industrial settings, to themes of musical genius, founding fathers, explorers, settlers and indigenous cultures—the murals continue to pose significant social questions, and challenge our vision.
Art for the People is the inspiring story of the rediscovery, careful restoration, and living history of these pieces of social wall art. A complete reference guide, it documents the history of mural making in the US, includes essays by 25 artists and historians like Studs Terkel, Francis V. O’Connor, and Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, and details each of the 438 murals spread across 68 locations. The glorious return of a lost chapter in Chicago’s annals and a detailed directory all in one, Art for the People is an important resource for those with an interest in American art and history.
With beautiful images of the restoration project and the murals themselves, this book bears witness to the undeniable ability of art to testify—as a powerful record of a people, place and time. Art for the People is a dramatic demonstration of the power of human hands working together not just to create art, but also to save it.
ISBN: 0-8118-3579-0 Paperback: $29.95 US
ISBN: 0-8118-3640-1 Hardcover: $45.00 US
9 x 11 inches, 256 pages, 250 color photographs
"Art Rediscovered" – Today’s Chicago Woman, February, 2003
"The Chicago Mural Preservation Project" – Network Chicago, February, 2003