The Prometheus mural and preparatory sketch collection by Jose Clemente Orozco at Pomona College marks the beginning of modern Mexican art influence in the United States as well as muralsim. The college has in its collection 17 original preliminary sketches for the mural that he painted with his assistant Jorge Juan Crespo de la Serna.
He was initially invited to paint by Frary Hall architect, Summer Splading and teacher Jose Pijoan. Serving as an eating hall for the school’s students, the mural’s significance and impact in the public viewing space is lost to some of the students at the college. Whether it’s because of culture differences or lack of understanding for the art, it’s a sigh of relief that the college has taken numerous steps to preserve and maintain the mural for the last 79 years.
This has included several projects that tailored to the murals exterior and interior walls. Thanks to all of the restoration efforts taken by the college, the mural will last longer and will be available for future students to go and see it in all its magnificence. The 17 preliminary drawings that can be viewed by request, offer more insight into the murals legacy and what Orozco wanted to create. The sketches show the groundwork of the mural and offer unique insight as to how he went about planning and painting the mural.
All the different sketches of Prometheus, the side panels and the God head show that Orozco planned ahead as much as he could before he started his work. The sketches show that in the planning stages, he divided the center part of the mural into different grids that would allow him to paint the piece one at a time without having to back track or make any mistakes. While the sketches go into details about the planning, they also show some of the normal wear and tear and add a little mystery as to what was happening when he was painting and working on the mural.
The sketches have are stored in special frames that will help maintain their preserve them for the public. While the sketches may have a high value on in the art world, original sketches for such a prolific mural are priceless and are available to anyone who wishes to see them. The school provides access and guides for the mural and it’s in a city that’s not easy to get to unless you have transportation or you make a day out of it.
This limits the availability to students and art lovers who may not have the resources to visit the school and see the mural. The lack of awareness of the mural and its impact is also lost because not many people know about it, it’s history and the first commissioned mural in the U.S. and the impact it still has today with artist who still paint murals in the streets of L.A. Just as Prometheus gave fire to humans, Orozco’s mural is a gift that is under appreciated.