Mosaic Mad Men

Mosaics were hitting a new stride in America by the mid-nineteen fifties. Many architectural firms were employing craftsmen and artisans to deliver large scale mosaic installations for their modernist buildings. In Los Angeles for example, Millard Sheets was covering facades of the Home Savings and Loan Banks with Italian inspired mosaics:

Millard Sheets midcentury mural – Home Savings & Loan Bank Branch located in Buena Park, CA. Photo by author

We see this trend reflected in the commercial art of the time – have a look below, at the 1957 magazine cover art by editorial cartoonist Karl Hubenthal (1917-1998). Hubenthal illustrated the covers for the LA Press Photographer’s Club Just One More from its inaugural issue in 1954 until 1968.

Joseph Young was also an active muralist and mosaicist in Los Angeles at the time.  He worked at some of the movie studios where many of the illustrators and cartoonists were employed in the Hay Day. Very likely Joe and Karl knew each other.

Los Angeles based artist, Joseph Young cutting mosaic tesserae with traditional Hammer and Hardie. circa 1957

Hubenthal’s  racing photographer is rendered in little tesserae…He even has drawn the andamento… the thoughtful positioning or “flow” of all the little pieces. This cartoonist has done well. The illustration could have easily been used for a bozzetto, translated as, yes, a “cartoon” or mosaic preparatory drawing.

Artists influencing artists –

mosaics quietly making their way into the psyche of America’s busiest Mad Men.

See more on Karl Hubenthal’s prolific career at MidCenturia’s site  HERE.

A big hat tip

2 Responses to “Mosaic Mad Men”
  1. I am a San Diego mosaic artist, and have been called in to restore and repair a recently uncovered Joseph Young mosaic in a private residence…see my blog for pics! It’s smalti and glass tile, and was covered with mirror using a tarry black adhesive. It’s a great little mid century gem of a piece.

    • sfmosaic says:

      hi Kirstin, thanks for checking in and sharing this restoration of Young’s lost work. It is amazing that people globbed adhesive directly ON the mosaic. Things go in and out of fashion, but mid-century mosaics are definitely IN again. good work Kirstin! Keep us posted.

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