New Book: On The Wall

On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City by Janet Braun-Reinitz and Jane Weissman is a comprehensive survey of New York City's vibrant neighborhood art. This book is now available from UPM.

Community murals are a temporary art form—susceptible to age, weather, and gentrification. Very few murals from the early 1970s and 1980s have survived, and many walls from the 1990s and 2000s no longer exist. “As time passes, neighborhoods as well as community concerns inevitably change,” the authors recognize. “Even when community murals no longer retain their initial power and the motivation for their creation is unknown or resolved, they remain vibrant threads in the daily fabric of neighborhood life.”

The result of six years of research and hundreds of interviews, On the Wall documents six chronological periods, offering aesthetic analyses of significant murals and introducing the artists and sponsors that created them. Braun-Reinitz and Weissman discovered murals hitherto “lost” to history or unknown outside their immediate surroundings. In relating the many fascinating stories behind the murals, the authors describe the interactions between artists and residents—including the controversies that have led to the destruction of several notable walls.

On the Wall gathers together 150 color images and offers an aesthetic perspective on New York's community murals in a lively and perceptive history.