Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Seattle Center Paul Horiuchi Mural

Paul Horiuchi Mural Below the Space Needle, Early Evening
Seattle Center Paul Horiuchi Mural 
The granddaddy of murals in Seattle surely must be the 17 feet high by 60 feet wide mural at the Seattle Center by Northwest artist Paul Horiuchi (1906 - 1999). Horiuchi was commissioned to create the mural for the Century 21 Exposition (Seattle World’s Fair) for the backdrop of an outdoor amphitheater close to the base of the Space Needle. An informative article at the HistoryLink (Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History) gives a good introduction to Horiuchi’s life and works.

The mural is made of mosaic pieces from Venice that assembled into large color shapes. The shapes are irregular and sharp-edged, layered on top of each other rather than fitting together perfectly. Horiuchi gained his fame as a collagist. From the HistoryLink site: “Horiuchi gained fame as a master collagist. Collage was a medium whose moment had arrived, the darling of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris. A decorative form of collage, called shikishi, has been used in Japan since the Heian period, in the twelfth century, by poets and calligraphers who arrange torn papers into the likeness of landscapes. Horiuchi drew on that tradition, cross-fertilizing it with a charge of abstract expressionist vigor.”

The HistoryLink site mentions a statement of his [life, artistic?] intent that was in the program at Horiuchi’s memorial service that I find moving: “I have always wanted to create something serene, the peace and serenity, the quality to balance the sensationalism in our surroundings today.” Amen.

The Horiuchi Mural From a Distance (left) and Signature (right)
Seattle Center Paul Horiuchi Mural Seattle Center Paul Horiuchi Mural - Signature

The Horiuchi Mural with a Gray Afternoon
Seattle Center Paul Horiuchi Mural  Seattle Center Paul Horiuchi Mural

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