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Hugo Ballin's Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

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Title Guarantee and Trust Building

“In commissioning Hugo Ballin to execute a series of mural paintings for the lobby of its building at Fifth and Hill Streets in Los Angeles, the Title Guarantee and Trust Company had in mind the presentation, in vigorous, colorful and adequate manner, of the picturesque and vital phases of Southern California’s history. It desired to align itself with that modern tendency which seeks to bring contemporary art to the immediate enjoyment of the public. To this end Mr. Ballin prepared six panels, the first being dedicated to the prehistoric era. The product of a distinguished painter, this group forms a unity of rich, rhythmic color, with bold figures and splendid themes offering stimulation to the imagination. The Ballin panels, definitely enriching the community, should prove of permanent historical and esthetic interest.”

In the 1920s, the rapid growth of the film industry in Hollywood, in combination with the discovery of oil in Signal Hill near Long Beach, stimulated unprecedented economic and industrial development in the southland. Economic growth fueled population growth, and by the end of the decade, Los Angeles was a home to over 1.2 million residents and was the fastest growing city in the country. This portion of the exhibit explores the impact of this explosive growth on Hugo Ballin's career as a mural painter, the Los Angeles art scene and the landscape of the city itself. Follow this path to learn more about the changes in Ballin's painting style in the late 1920s and early 1930s, as reflected in his murals at the Title Guarantee and Trust Building and other corporate commissions downtown. 
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