The 18th-century BC fresco of the Investiture of Zimrilim discovered at the Royal Palace of ancient Mari in Syria
Murals of sorts date to Upper Paleolithic times such as the paintings in the Chauvet Cave in Ardèche department of southern France (around 30,000 BC). Many ancient murals have survived in Egyptian tombs (around 3150 BC), the Minoan palaces (Middle period III of the Neopalatial period, 1700-1600 BC) and in Pompeii (around 100 BC – AD 79).
In modern times, the term became more well-known with the Mexican “muralista” art movement (Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, or José Orozco). There are many different styles and techniques. The best-known is probably fresco, which uses water-soluble paints with a damp lime wash, a rapid use of the resulting mixture over a large surface, and often in parts (but with a sense of the whole). The colors lighten as they dry. The marouflage method has also been used for millennia.
Murals today are painted in a variety of ways, using oil or water-based media. The styles can vary from abstract to trompe-l’œil (a French term for “fool” or “trick the eye”). Initiated by the works of mural artists like Graham Rust or Rainer Maria Latzke in the 1980s, trompe-l’oeil painting has experienced a renaissance in private and public buildings in Europe. Today, the beauty of a wall mural has become much more widely available with a technique whereby a painting or photographic image is transferred to poster paper or canvas which is then pasted to a wall surface (see wallpaper, Frescography) to give the effect of either a hand-painted mural or realistic scene.
Historical mural techniques
In the history of mural several methods have been used:
A fresco painting, from the Italian word affresco which derives from the adjective fresco (“fresh”), describes a method in which the paint is applied on plaster on walls or ceilings. The buon fresco technique consists of painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, fresh, lime mortar or plaster. The pigment is then absorbed by the wet plaster; after a number of hours, the plaster dries and reacts with the air: it is this chemical reaction which fixes the pigment particles in the plaster. After this the painting stays for a long time up to centuries in fresh and brilliant colors.
Fresco-secco painting is done on dry plaster (secco is “dry” in Italian). The pigments thus require a binding medium, such as egg (tempera), glue or oil to attach the pigment to the wall.
Mezzo-fresco is painted on nearly-dry plaster was defined by the sixteenth-century author Ignazio Pozzo as “firm enough not to take a thumb-print” so that the pigment only penetrates slightly into the plaster. By the end of the sixteenth century this had largely displaced the buon fresco method, and was used by painters such as Gianbattista Tiepolo or Michelangelo. This technique had, in reduced form, the advantages of a secco work.
In Greco-Roman times, mostly encaustic colors ground in a molten beeswax or resin binder and applied in a hot state was used.
Tempera painting is one of the oldest known methods in mural painting. In tempera, the pigments are bound in an albuminous medium such as egg yolk or egg white diluted in water.
In 16th-century Europe, oil painting on canvas arose as an easier method for mural painting. The advantage was that the artwork could be completed in the artist’s studio and later transported to its destination and there attached to the wall or ceiling. Oil paint can be said to be the least satisfactory medium for murals because of its lack of brilliance in colour. Also the pigments are yellowed by the binder or are more easily affected by atmospheric conditions. The canvas itself is more subject to rapid deterioration than a plaster ground.
Modern mural techniques
Different muralists tend to become experts in their preferred medium and application, whether that be oil paints, emulsion or acrylic paints applied by brush, roller or airbrush/aerosols. Clients will often ask for a particular style and the artist may adjust to the appropriate technique.
A consultation usually leads to a detailed design and layout of the proposed mural with a price quote that the client approves before the muralist starts on the work. The area to be painted can be gridded to match the design allowing the image to be scaled accurately step by step. In some cases the design is projected straight onto the wall and traced with pencil before painting begins. Some muralists will paint directly without any prior sketching, preferring the spontaneous technique.
Once completed the mural can be given coats of varnish or protective acrylic glaze to protect the work from UV rays and surface damage.
(Information From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
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