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ExhibitionRichard Haas: The Madison Projects

Nov 13, 2015–Jan 10, 2016

ceiling mural of the capitol building

Spring Green, Wisconsin, native Richard Haas first made his name in the 1970s in New York. His murals covered blank urban walls with appealing trompe l’oeil painting that created the illusion of three-dimensional architecture. Hundreds of buildings throughout the United States are the beneficiaries of his imagined architectural world. The Chazen exhibition features original presentation drawings from two Madison commissions: the Olin Terrace mural and a private residence ceiling mural (the mural itself was removed to, and is now on view at, the Madison Children’s Museum), which comprise a gift from Haas to the Chazen.

In 1985, Madison officials commissioned Haas to create an outdoor mural for the city. Haas chose the Olin Terrace as the site for his work because it was the sight of the three-time rejected proposal for the controversial Frank Lloyd Wright-designed convention center, which he (and many others) believed would never be built. In the mural, Haas shows the reflection of Wright’s convention center in the painted windows. A version of the Wright design, Monona Terrace Convention Center, was finally built in 1995 and now obscures the mural.

The ceiling mural painted in 1986 for the entrance of a Madison residence was moved to the Madison Children’s Museum in 2012. The presentation drawings for this mural illustrate Wisconsin scenes such as Taliesin, Wisconsin Dells, University of Wisconsin’s “Red Gym,” and a Wisconsin farm.