August 28, 2010

The manly mosaic men of Union Terminal.

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"German-born artist Winold Reiss was commissioned in 1932 to design murals for the Cincinnati’s railroad station, called Union Terminal.... The 12-foot foreground figures illustrate the workings of people in the developing country.... Winold Reiss drew the portraits from life, and many of his subjects were Cincinnatians."

Lovely Cincinnatians!

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30 comments:

ironrailsironweights said...

If the mural were inspired by today's television commercials and sitcoms, it would show an array of Doofus Dads, constantly being shown up and humiliated for the losers they are by their ultra-competent wives and smart-aleck children.

Peter

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Good thing we didn't have Labor Unions, prevailing wage and OSHA back then or we wouldn't have been able to accomplish any of those projects shown in the mural. Probably wouldn't have been able to paint the mural either because the EPA would have banned the paint because it was oil based.

Beautiful mural btw.

Ann Althouse said...

Not paint. Tile.

William said...

Like the statues of naked boys complete with phallic symbols, these pictures hark back to an earlier, simpler age. Latent content--one of those weird New York ideas. Don't believe a word of it. How I pine for that innocent era. I can't tell you how much ridicule and harsh accusations my collection of Justin Bieber memorabilia has attracted among friends and relatives. Admittedly, the backlit, full length portrait of Justin in a Speedo that has pride of place in my living room is a bit excessive, but for a true fan nothing is excessive.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wow. Tile. Even better. What skill.

edutcher said...

The genre, I believe, is called industrial art. This was a style which was used to great effect in public works projects during the Depression.

Interestingly, Pajamas Media links to a piece which ultimately awaits the new wave of Depression Art for the New Depression as a means to propagandize the masses (Shepard(?) Fairey, where are you?). And this is a bunch of Lefties.

It should be noted this style was also all the rage in Stalinist Russia.

Ann Althouse said...

Not paint. Tile.

In addition to the artistry, magnificent craftsmanship.

bagoh20 said...

What's up with that third one? Is the guy with axe wearing a woman's blouse and a large earring, while the pistol packer surveys him? That whole scene is homoerotic. I'm not gay...yet, but that kinda stuff is starting to make me care about marriage.

tjl said...

The guy with the off-the-shoulder shirt clearly has more on his mind than laying rails.

Mumpsimus said...

I like the pioneer in the loud plaid pants, and his preppy kid. And Epic Beard Guy, of course.

DADvocate said...

It is virtually impossible to capture the grandeur of Union Terminal on camera but you do a good job. We studied Union Terminal in art history at the University of Tennessee. My first trip to Cincinnati after that I visited it. At that time it just had a couple of shops in it.

They have some free tours and paid tours that take places in the building you can't go otherwise. During WWII my father went through there on his way to join the Army.

Did you do the bit where you talk in a normal voice to the wall at one side of the dome and Meade hear you on the other side, which is 180 across and 106 feet high?

It also totally looks like the Hall of Justice. I love the massive beauty of buildings from that era.

HDHouse said...

You can, in Union Terminal, go to the wall and put your head up against it so your ear is touching and whisper...the sound goes al around the circular room and you can hear yourself a second later. Absolutely true.

It is one of the wonder buildings in this nation and a vivid memory from growing up there.

lemondog said...

Fascinating WPA art. Highly stylized. Always interesting.

HDHouse said...

i'm thinking of Ann's post on the North Korean exhibit in Vienna and the WPA here. The difference between government support and government dictates.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Looks great, too bad about them tearing down half of it.

" In 1974, the Southern Railway did tear down most of the train concourse, an action which they now say that they wish had never taken place. Before the concourse was destroyed, the fourteen mosaic murals depicting important Cincinnati industries were removed by Besl Transfer Company from the concourse and installed at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The only mural which was not preserved was the world map, which was destroyed when the concourse was removed.

Paco Wové said...

tjl said...

The guy with the off-the-shoulder shirt clearly has more on his mind than laying rails.


Well, you know, there's laying rail, and there's laying rail.

Alex said...

I can sense the homo-erotic content in this murals. Remember Weimar Germany was a very gay-friendly place. Berlin was just filled with gay clubs.

Michael said...

bahoh20: I think that is a rivet gun in the holster. I think that is light reflecting on the cheek and not an earring.

The masculinity on steroids is likely offensive to the modern eye and sentiment. Real men doing real work. Clingers, probably.

Alex said...

Michael - you're misreading masculinity with homo-erotic content.

Palladian said...

"It is virtually impossible to capture the grandeur of Union Terminal on camera but you do a good job."

Cincinnati Union Terminal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

k*thy said...

Milwaukee still got a lot of that art still around the city, as well. It's beautiful.

Whenever I see this type of workI always think of my grandfather who was a welder and my husband's grandfather who was an early brewmeister. Both helped build a lot of the city thru that time.

David said...

Outstanding.

But racist--no black people.

Mumpsimus said...

@David:

There are two black laborers on the other panel of the mural. See:

http://gigapan.org/gigapans/20556-1600x467.jpg

No Muslims, though.

virgil xenophon said...

The grand art-deco terminal in Philly is not to be missed either--and still a working terminal--nor is the grand one in Indy where though no longer working, they now have several open-to-the grand ceiling restaurants installed as well as other shops. Haven't been thru Union Station in St. Louis since '69 when it was still working and looked exactly as it did in WWII. And of course since they've cleaned the soot off of the ceiling in Grand Central in NYC the creamy marble and light sky-blue ceiling is dramatic.Last seen by me in Dec '99 shortly after restoration.

Ann, NOT to be missed is one of the grandest Art-Deco bldgs in America right there in Cincy in the form of the old Netherlands-Hilton Hotel. (previously the Sherry-Netherlands, IIRC.) It's interior is a MUST SEE!!!

And too bad one of the greatest restaurants in America--The Maisonnette--closed its doors in 2005. 41 Straight years as a 5-Star rating--more than any other restaurant in America.

virgil xenophon said...

I should add that the modernist 50's-built ICRR/Greyhound/Main Post Office terminal in New Orleans has a great 120'-long depression-era style mural painted by a local artist Conrad Albrizio in '54. iirc, that survived Katrina relatively unscathed--although the terminal itself is unimpressive.

Popville said...

Winold Reiss also drew an early visualization of the Internet for Fortune Magazine.

John said...

1) Is this still a train station or has it been repurposed?

The guy on the beam looks like he is swinging the hammer. But at what? The only thing I can see to hit would be the beam itself which makes no sense.

Unless he wants to jolt the other man into falling.

Beautiful mosaics, though.

John Henry

Sixty Grit said...

Those figures make no sense - the fellow in overalls, on the beam, with the hammer raised - at what is he swinging? The tile guy never did construction. The fellow with the rivet gun would not be using a transit - that's not part of his job.

Besides all that, the art is just not that good. Compare that to even the weakest Northern European or Italian paintings of similar size and scope and this work is shown to be staggeringly mediocre.

WV: selsar - where is the clown with the selsar bottle - he was a fixture of that era.

Greg Hlatky said...

Where are the things that made this country truly great? Where are the community organizers? The consumer advocacy lawyers? The deputy associate directors for diversity? The mimes?

Methadras said...

Misogynistic muralism.

victoria said...

Dust bunny, labor unions were actually at their most powerful during the '30's. Most of these murals done in the '30's were done by "commies" (their quotes not mine). One of my great aunts did a mural in tile at the Cleveland Public Library for the WPA during the depression. This put artists back to work beautifying America. Most were left leaning and the results were some awesome murals, paintings sculptures and photographs, showing America in their time of need. I think the juxtaposition of the photographs of Dorothea Lange were used yesterday during Glenn Beck's "Restoring whatever". She was about as commie as you can get. In addition, they used the music of Aaron Copeland, not only an open commie but an open homosexual. Wonder if they knew that. Some much for "family values"


The WPA rocked, as did Copeland, all commies. Ohhhh scared of them. Didn't destroy anything, only made it better.


Vicki