We Assure Freedom to the Free, Proclamation of Emancipation, The Modern Man I Sing (1943-4

Location: East Lansing, MI, USA

Description: We Assure Freedom to the Free, Proclamation of Emancipation,
The Modern Man I Sing, 1943 – 44
Charles Pollock (American, 1902 – 1988)
Casein on canvas
MSU Auditorium foyer

Three mural panels in the entrance foyer of the Auditorium display themes typical of government-sponsored art of the 1930s and 40s. Painted in casein on canvas, We Assure Freedom to the Free (1944), the central figure of Abraham Lincoln in Proclamation of Emancipation (1943), and the words of Walt Whitman in The Modern Man I Sing (1944), emphasize the importance of freedom. Depictions of political and economic struggles are combined with symbols of technological advances ranging from pioneer days to those contemporary to the 1940s. Pollock’s representational style, clear compositional rhythms and flat, evenly illuminated figures were likely influenced by the Mexican Muralists and American Scene paintings of the 1920's.

Although for many, the word mural is synonymous with fresco, a technique that involves the direct painting on wet plaster, most WPA artists rarely executed murals in true fresco. Besides lacking training in this technique, it was considered difficult, costly, and required assistants. Instead artists chose water-soluble paints such as tempera or casein, which have a matte finish close to the effects of fresco. Painting directly on canvas permitted artists to work off-site. Murals were then transferred to the intended location upon completion.

Now exit the building and move to the next stop on the tour.

Order: Stop 2

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