HARRY J. JOHNSON

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Lucien Adolphe Labaudt

The Beach Chalet murals were designed by Lucien Labaudt, who was born in France in 1880. He went to London in 1901 and played rugby with an expert Rugby team called the London Welsh. He came to San Francisco in 1906 and became a member of the social elite.

Lucien LabaudtHe opened the California School of Design, on Powell Street, a school of fashion and design. He designed “many great halls for gala balls” and created costumes for guests in the ’20s and early ’30s. His murals reveal a fashion designer’s eye for clothing. He is known to have worked in the Paramount Theater and also organized the Bohemian Ball, a costume extravaganza that filled the Civic Auditorium. For a time he lived in Nashville and had a studio for costume design and stage scenery. He created a scientific order of color, similar to a scientific order of musical tones developed by music theorists.

He was a cubist. In San Francisco, he became interested in dynamic symmetry. He was accused of being unable to paint realistically, so he turned to the figure and the natural world. He also designed the frescoes in San Francisco at Coit Tower and the Washington High School library. Labaudt's friends and family are in some scenes. In one Beach Chalet fresco are artist Ben Cunningham and assistant Arnold Bray.

“Art must be constantly creative,” said Labaudt. “It cannot be useful unless it is. It must be responsive to change as is industry, so that murals can be removed from walls, and new developments from the laboratory instantly employed. The artist can, in fact, be more daringly progressive than industry, for there are no considerations of property, capital, and profit to deter him. If he will realize his opportunity, the artist can reassert himself as a leader of human thought and action.”

Lucien Labaudt died in India in a plane crash 1943, on assignment to do war sketches for Life Magazine. His art, at the Beach Chalet and other locations, is his legacy.

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