Zoltan Sepeshy – Mural – 1941

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© Estate of Zoltan Sepeshy. Photograph by R. H. Hensleigh and Tim Thayer.

Zoltan Sepeshy

Study for The Scientist, Artist and Farmer Mural, Rackham Building, Detroit, Michigan, 1941

Born 1898, Kassa, Hungary (now Kosice, Czech Republic); Cranbrook Academy of Art (CAA), Instructor, Department of Painting, beginning 1931; CAA Director, Department of Painting, beginning 1936; CAA Educational Director, 1944–1946; CAA Director, 1946–1959; CAA President, 1959–1966; died 1974, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Tempera on hardboard
27 ½ x 27 ½ inches
Transfer from Cranbrook Institute of Science
CAM 1983.60

During the Depression years, government and corporate patronage promoted public artworks designed to inspire civic pride, social unity and job productivity. Like many of his peers, Zoltan Sepeshy was commissioned by the Federal Art Project to create murals for government buildings, including post offices in Michigan and Illinois. Among his most significant private commissions was a mural for the Rackham Engineering Foundation in Detroit. Destined as an over mantle decoration for the Engineers’ Lounge, Sepeshy conceived an image that celebrated nature as the inspiration for human endeavors. His design, The Scientist, Artist and Farmer, was elaborated in a detailed study, which includes the architectural elements of the ceiling, wood paneling and fireplace that would ultimately frame the panel in situ. It illustrates the massive hand of God bestowing the gift of water from above. In a single magnified drop, three men see this natural resource from the diverse viewpoints of scientific inquiry, creative expression and pragmatic application. Sepeshy cleverly represents himself as the artist whose outstretched brush appears to summon the vivid scene to life.

Joe Houston
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Category(s): Paintings

Decade(s): 1940s

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