hanover is home to dartmouth college, and dartmouth is home to the Orozco murals. jose clemente orozco won a commission to paint these murals in the 1930’s. they are called The Epic of American Civilization, and like the diego rivera murals in the palacio nacional of mexico city they illustrate the progress of civilization, for better or worse, from prehistoric times to the age of steel.
what interested me also was the story of how they came to be, there was money for murals, but rivera was the more famous of the pair. however it seems that the board, or commission or whatever, had already decided they wanted Orozco; so in order to raise his profile and ease the way for his triumphal entry, they staged a number of shows of his art in the region. they acted as show-runners so to speak.
it’s a reminder that even great art has to be received somehow, it has to be bought and sold not only in terms of the money but in terms of the community. the relationship between artist and community is not irrelevant or even trivial. in that sense, art doesn’t ‘speak for itself.’ it speaks for a wider community and bigger vision than even itself.