National Society of Mural Painters
"Art for the Public Space"
Edwin Howland Blashfield Essex County Courthouse Rotunda
Newark, New Jersey
The National Society of Mural Painters (NSMP) is an organization whose major concern is the advancement of techniques and standards for the design and execution of mural art for the enrichment of architecture in the United States. Originally known as The Mural Painters, the society was founded in 1895 by a group of artists, including John W. Alexander, Kenyon Cox, Edwin Blashfield, and John LaFarge. NSMP has records dating from its founding on file in the Archives of American Art.
NSMP collaborated with the Fine Arts Section of the Treasury Department, The Arts Project of the WPA, and the design boards of several World's Fairs.. As a member of Artists for Victory, NSMP was allied with activities connected with World War II—many triptych altarpieces were painted for use by the armed forces through the Citizens Committee for the Army and Navy, Inc., and barracks and camps were decorated as well.
The determination of the founding artists to act as a group to represent the interests of mural painters in major public issues set up an ongoing tradition of "acting out of commitment." Murals have traditionally functioned as an integral part of American domestic and municipal buildings and artists of NSMP are dedicated to sustaining a climate of recognition and of national pride in "art for public space." For over one hundred years members of NSMP have created significant and monumental works of art across the country.
A mural is a work of art designed for a specific wall, or area, to decorate a large architectural unit. It can be executed on the wall itself, in situ, or worked out in the artist's studio and later installed. A mural is not just a large painting set into a given space. It must be designed for a specific space and serve the purpose of the building. Contemporary murals can be found in unusual places as well as obvious and familiar ones. Recent murals by NSMP members have been placed in hospitals, schools, office buildings, churches, temples, public buildings such as libraries and courthouses, playgrounds, and theaters.
The mural painters of the past dealt with suitable decoration of a wall for embellishment, contemporary muralists finds themselves within an expanding esthetic. With advanced technology they can offer architects total integration of design and materials, interpretations compatible with purpose, expanded visual and spatial concepts, and a vast array of technical resources for textural effects.
NSMP presents exhibitions and organizes and conductes competitions. In celebration of the one hundredth anniversary, a centennial exhibition was held in October 1995 at the Art Students League. The current membership is a diverse group of national and international artists qualified by application and acceptance. Society members work with other organizations, actively sponsoring legislation and allocation of funds for the development and commission of public works of art.
NSMP is a member of the Fine Arts Federation of New York.