Artist: Florian Durzynski (1902-1969)
Title: Frederic Chopin and Stephen Foster
Date: c. 1941
Medium: two murals in oil on canvas
Florian Durzynskis two horizontal murals in the Chopin Elementary auditorium are the largest such works in the Chicago Public Schools. In these murals, Durzynski depicts the lives of composers Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) and Stephen Foster (1826-1864). In the mural shown here, the young Chopin appears next to a narrative of his life, which begins with Zelazowa Wola, the small Polish village where he was born. In the center of the composition flow dancers, some in traditional Polish costume, others pristine ballerinas. Durzynski modeled these figures after Chopin students.
On the opposite wall of the auditorium, the Stephen Foster mural (not shown here) also includes a portrait of the composer. He is posed near images of the American south that recall his famous musical pieces such as "Oh! Susanna" and "My Ol Kentucky Home." The lyricism of the composition and line combined with a brightly colored palette give these impressive murals a musical quality. Durzynski studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and produced many murals for local schools under the auspices of the WPA.
Related work in the Art Institute:
Pablo Picasso, The Old Guitarist
Picassos simple composition of an aging man playing the guitar contrasts with the many dancers in Durzynskis mural. What kind of music do you hear when you look at Picassos painting?