The word mural originates from the Latin word murus or "wall." Thus, mural art refers to any form of visual expression created on a wall. Mural art is a longstanding public art form that has expressed religious and political beliefs within societies.

A lot of what we learn about ancient civilizations in archaeology has to do with the murals of that culture.
Murals have important cultural significance and express the ethos of a group of people in a deep way which words cannot describe. Murals were created from stories, values, and dreams, of various groups of people and it flowed out of their soul. The history of murals and mural painting is rich and varied,  from the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux (or Lascaux Grottoes) in southwest France, to the celebratory and ceremonial murals of ancient Egypt, Rome, Mesopotamia, Greece and India.


Religious History

In their early history, murals were often used to display symbols from religion. For example, in the 30th century B.C., Egyptians painted the walls of their tombs with pictures of gods and goddesses. The Ajanta Caves in India contain mural paintings from approximately 200 B.C. that depict symbolic representations from Buddhism. During the 4th century A.D., Christians decorated their tombs with images of Christ. Finally, during the Italian Renaissance, artists like Giotto di Bondone painted biblical scenes on church walls.



Political History
The Mexican Mural movement represents one of the most powerful and significant achievements in public art during the 20th century. After a prolonged civil war and people's revolution, Mexican Mural movement was born. The three most prominent artists of the movement are José Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.


Political art often has major reactions and at times consequences to it. In 1932, after seeing some of Rivera’s murals, Nelson Rockefeller asked if he would be interested in painting a mural in the Radio Corporation Arts Building in Rockefeller Center. His mural Man at the Crossroads depicting the social, political, industrial, and scientific possibilities of the twentieth century was begun in 1933 for the Rockefeller Center in New York City. He was dismissed from this commission at Rockefeller Center for including a portrait of Vladimir Lenin.

Modern Murals
Murals today are painted in a variety of traditional and non-traditional ways, using oil or water-based media, and vary in style from abstract to trompe l’oeil.  Mural painting itself has experienced an amazing renaissance in private residences and public buildings especially in North America, Europe and South America. 

Community Murals
The community-based wall-painted mural carries the art historical context of fine art and has the added advantage of maintaining the context of the environment of which it is a part. Murals have a dramatic impact whether consciously or subconsciously on the attitudes of viewers.The community mural has power because of the role it plays in realizing the potential of artist and viewer within a cultural context.

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Comment by Ismael Cazarez on July 20, 2011 at 11:28pm
A large nike ad painted on a wall...IS THAT A MURAL?
Comment by Rodolfo Morais on July 21, 2011 at 12:40am
Good question ! I would call it an ad or a wallscape ! Just as a Nike ad on a canvas would still be perceived as an ad and not a piece of Artwork :)
Comment by Ismael Cazarez on September 4, 2012 at 8:31pm
Thanks for answering, I feel the same way. Los Angeles,CA has a mural ban at this point ...a $1,000..oo fine a day , until it comes down...also digital printed banners are now being called murals...AD folks behind that one...another loop hole.


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