Butler Library Mural Analysis

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Butler Library, the largest of Columbia University’s libraries, greets its visitors with a centered mural that embodies the importance of the building it resides in. The Butler Library Mural by Eugene Savage is larger than life, both metaphorically and physically. However, it could be easily overlooked as it sits in the shadows, only illuminated by the distant lights. This lack of direct artificial light seems to contribute to the overall aesthetic of the mural. Rather than artificial light, the luminous colors in the mural serve as its own source of light. Athena, one of the murals main sources of light, stands erect in the center, unremarkably poised, and beautifully clothed in a rich yet calming ivory white drapery that is lined with Columbia …show more content…
The importance and the source of light can be immediately observed from the rich and bright colors that the figures are painted in. The ivory white on Athena, gold on the sublime beings in the upper left corner, and the bright yellow beams of light shooting from the center of the sun all add to the illumination of the mural. Of them all, the bright beam of light is so stark that it dissects the mural; it starts from the sun in the upper right portion of the mural runs diagonally, separating the darkness from and light and more so knowledge from ignorance. While the beam of light is very stark and definitive, its diagonal nature implies a sort of movement and more specifically the movement of knowledge and ideas.
When looking closely at the luminous objects in the painting, it is evident that they are all embellished with bits of the same copper like material that transforms the painted mural into a three dimensional piece of art. This copper like material is most clearly seen in Athena’s, ornate shawl and crown, but there are also pieces in the sun’s wave and in the gifts held by the sublime beings. The deliberate placement of this material on only those figures serves as another factor of their thematic
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The very defined abdomen, quadriceps, and biceps of the figures in motion show their overall. These human-like features illustrate that the characteristics of these figures are not an unknown phenomenon to people, but that they too can possess the same dark traits. These figures also seem to be attracted to the light, but rather looking to the light for guidance, their furrowed brows, flared nostrils and strong facial contractions speaks to their anger and ill motives. While they ultimately are blocked by Athena’s shield, the painting of the goblins in motions shows that not only is there movement within the sphere of knowledge, but that there is movement within world of darkness that can sometimes interfere with the

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