Meet the 4th Floor: Murals

Jun 25, 2015

In 1936, Gerome Kamrowski, a 22-year-old artist, was commissioned to paint two murals in the lunettes at either end of Northrop’s fourth floor corridor. These two murals were held as the first done in the modern cubist style in the Twin Cities. Now, 80 years later, Northrop has recreated the murals in the revitalized building.

Gerome Kamrowski (Jan 29, 1914 – Mar 27, 2004) was an American artist and participant in the Surrealist Movement in the United States.  He was born in Warren, Minnesota and began studying art in the early 1930s at the St. Paul School of Art, now formally known as the Minnesota Museum of America Art, on scholarship.

The series of murals Kamrowski painted in Northrop were constructed as a celebration of the arts.  The mural at one end of the fourth floor corridor was titled “Guest Performance” and symbolized music, the ballet, and the cinema.  The painting consisted of conventionalized musical instruments, a scrap of movie film, and two measures from Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony. The second mural was entitled “Local talent” and represented architecture, the graphic and plastic arts, and drama.

In the Minnesota Daily newspaper on May 8, 1936, instructor of art Ray Faulkner expressed his appreciation for Kamrowski’s murals: “They represent a distinct contribution to the art collection of the University…The forms and colors are well related to the space they fill and are honest expressions of this civilization.”

You can now view the recreated murals at Northrop above the staircases leading to the fourth floor on both the east and west sides of the building.



Northrop Mural
Photo by Daniel Ringold


Northrop Mural
Photo by Daniel Ringold
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On behalf of Gerome's many Minnesota relatives, thanks for this recap. We have, of course, over the years heard his stories about his WPA artwork experiences, but never thought we'd ever be able to see his Northrop works in person. We are most delighted to know that the murals have been recreated in their original location! Well done! - Gerome's nieces, Kathy Henderson and Ellen De La Cruz

So great to read this! I am using Kamrowski's fabulous, colorful painting at Mia for our book tours on "The Immortal Henrietta Lacks," and would love to know more about Kawrowski's understanding of cell growth, nerves and biomorphic forms. It appears that his first wife was ill around the time that he painted, "The Competitive Lover." Was he dealing with some of the same mysteries about cancer that Henrietta Lacks' family did? And what was known about cancer cells at the point he painted this incredible work? I would be grateful for any guidance. In the meanwhile, it is wonderful to have information about this mural! Thank you so much! Kay Miller -

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