Anthony Heinsbergen was not a famous painter in the sense of his fellow Dutch American contemporaries, such as De Kooning, Mondrian, and Hopper. But he was a graphic artist without question, and left his mark on the American art scene as a muralist. During his productive life, he produced murals for 757 major theaters and numerous buildings such as corporate offices, churches, synagogues, libraries, civic auditoriums and public buildings, including the Los Angeles, California City Hall.
Heinsbergen came to the U. S. A. as a 13 year old boy with his family. At that time he already had been employed, probably as an apprentice, for a Dutch painting firm engaged in decorative painting. The Heinsbergen family settled in Los Angeles, California. While in Los Angeles, Heinsbergen’s artistic skills were recognized, and he was able to undertake formal training at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. His interest from the beginning was in painting murals, and even as a student he became known for his expertise in that area.
In 1922, Heinsbergen, who was then 28 years old, established his own mural decorating firm and was able to obtain a few commissions. He became quickly recognized for his work, especially for his murals in the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood and in the Beverley Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1928, he received a municipal government contract for the murals in the new Los Angeles City Hall. With contracts such as the ones noted above, his reputation quickly spread. The theatre chain mogul Alexander Pantages became aware of Heinsbergen’s work, and commissioned Heinsbergen to do work on one of his theater properties. The recognition Heinsbergen received for his work on that project caused Pantages to commission Heinsbergen to do 20 more theaters around the country. This exposure quickly gave Heinsbergen a national reputation for his murals.
Other major structures that contain his murals include the Beverly Hills City Hall, the Department of Commerce Building in Washington, D. C., the Biltmore Hotel and Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California, the Elks Clubs in Los Angeles and in San Francisco, the Pacific Coast Club in Long Beach, the Gables Club in Santa Monica, the Union Trust and Savings Bank in Los Angeles, and the Tower Theater in Los Angeles, California among many other buildings. During the recent decades, the large, downtown movie theaters, which frequently were decorated with the Heinsbergen murals, have been replaced by clusters of smaller theaters, and the interest in theater murals, in vogue in the 1930’s, has disappeared. However, it is estimated that many of Heinsbergen’s mural creations have survived, and many now have become official or unofficial historic landmarks.
At the end of his career, Heinsbergen, together with his son, also named Anthony Heinsbergen, did a lot of restorative work on the original mural creations. It is estimated that of the 757 theater murals Heinsbergen created, as many as 200 still survive, and many are now viewed as having an important historic significance. The Heinsbergen Company, headed by the elder Heinsbergen’s son until his death, has been engaged in the restoration and maintenance of many of the murals that were created during the artist’s lifetime.
Anthony Heinsbergen was born in the Netherlands on December 13, 1894. He moved to Los Angeles, California with his parents in 1907, at age 13. Little is known about his personal life, except for the fact that he had a son, Anthony, Jr. [1929-2004], who followed him in the management of his company. The elder Heinsbergen lived most of his life in a home he had built himself, in the Los Angeles district of Pacific Palisades on the south slope of the Santa Monica Mountains. Anthony Heinsbergen passed away in Los Angeles on June 14, 1981 at the advanced age of 86.
Anthony B. Heinsbergen, www.publicartinla.com/Downtown/figueroa/bunker_hill/heinsbergen.html
Anthony Heinsbergen, www.factbites.com/topics/Anthony-Heinsbergen
Anthony Heinsbergen, Wikipedia
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