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Untitled

Artist
Hugo Ballin H.W. Johnson E. Neuman Vsevolod Ulianoff
Year
1932
Artwork Type
Mural
Media & Support
Paint on plaster
Dimensions
42 ft.x 12 ft.* (12.8 x 3.7 m)
Department
Health Services
Location
LAC+USC General Hospital
1200 North State Street
Los Angeles, CA
District
1
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https://www.lacountyarts.org/civicart/objects-1/info/19

Location

Latitude: -118.207632 - Longitude: 34.057765
Image: Untitled

Additional Images

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Description

This fresco ceiling mural at the entrance to the historic General Hospital, depicts real-life and mythological Greek medical heroes.  Each of its three domes has a legendary demigod at its center. The central section is dominated by Aesculapius, Apollo’s son, who could bring the dead back to life. On his right and left, in the respective hearts of their sections, are Aesculapius’ sons, Podalirius and Machaon. Both were said to be miraculous healers who tended the wounded during the Trojan War. In addition to these fantastical men, Aesculapius is bordered by four real-life Greeks: Aristotle, Hippocrates, Herophilus, and Erasistratus. Each is famous for his contributions to the fields of philosophy or science. Podalirius and Machaon are surrounded by allegorical figures representing the emotional and practical qualities needed to care for and heal the sick.

All of the figures are set amongst a brilliant blue sky. Gold circles dominate throughout the artwork, adding to the round proportionality of the ceiling’s three domes and numerous arches. As is typical of the fresco technique, paint was applied directly onto the plaster of the Hospital’s ceiling so that the resulting painting is literally embedded in the building. It is the only public fresco that Hugo Ballin ever created.


About the Artist

Hugo Ballin (1879-1956) was born in New York City and studied at the Art Students’ League as well as in Italy and France. He became a professional painter and one of his early projects was a series of murals for the Wisconsin State Capitol. Samuel Goldwyn later hired Ballin as an art director for Goldwyn Pictures in New Jersey where he worked until 1920 when he formed his own production company, Hugo Ballin Productions.  He relocated his company to Los Angeles in the mid-1920s. When talking pictures revolutionized Hollywood, Ballin quit the industry to return to painting (although he did provide sketches for The Wizard of Oz). He quickly became one of the foremost muralists in southern California. His most famous public works include murals at Griffith Park Observatory, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the Los Angeles Times Building, the Southern California Edison Company Building, and the Title Guarantee Building. In addition to painting and directing, he also wrote four successful novels.