Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Modern Age: Waiting Room 1954

The New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, located at 1001 Loyola Avenue, and designed by the collaborative team of Wogan and Bernard, Jules K. de la Vergne, and August Perez & Associates, opened to public acclaim in 1954. Noted Louisiana muralist Conrad Albrizio (1894-1973), who studied fresco techniques in Rome and Fontainebleau, designed the murals to depict the history of Louisiana. Divided into four chronological panels spanning an aggregate of four hundred years, the panels represented four distinctive "ages": that of Exploration, Colonization, Struggle and Modernity. Albrizio, in a self-published pamphlet explaining the murals, defined Louisiana's Modern Age as that which followed the Civil War, when:

"secret groups oppose the dishonest political practices of the Carpetbagger Government, which not only exploited the chaotic conditions caused by the passing of 'plantation days' but also rendered helpless the impoverished landowners. A new State Constitution was adopted in 1879; the Capital is moved to Baton Rouge; the negroes, uncertain of their future, return to the fields. Paul Tulane's gift makes possible the founding of Tulane University. This leads to the center motif of the panel which represents Western Civilization contrasting the past Indian Civilization. Symbolized are three aspects of Man; the Material, the Spiritual and the Creative. The idead of resurrection, basic to the Christian doctrine, is expressed by the center figure soaring upward, transcending the material world. There follows the advancement of education wherein all races have equal opportunities, and New Orleans becomes a medical center. Emphasis is placed upon the development of the sciences: Physics, Medicine, Sociology and Anthropology. Reference is made to the importance of New Orleans as a port through the exchange of goods with other countries. The panel ends with symbols of industry and atomic power with an allusion to the conquest of outer space and the unknown"

The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains forty cartoon drawings by Conrad Albrizio related to his murals for the Waterman Steamship Company Building located in Mobile, Alabama, as well as Albrizio's small brochure, Mural Paintings in the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (New Orleans: Conrad Albrizio, 1955). Additionally, the SEAA houses architectural records associated with the New Orleans firm Toledano, Wogan and Bernard.

Image above: Leon Trice, photographer. Waiting Room of the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, 1954. Toledano, Wogan and Bernard Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My house in the French Quarter was once owned by Conrad Albrizio, with a large mural of neighbors dressed in Mardi Gras attire in the foyer. It is constantly in need of repair, but fortunately I have a muralist who flies in from Italy once every couple of years to do touch ups. She studied Albrizio while in art school at LSU