Bank of America Corporate Center
The series of frescoes at NationsBank Corporate Center [ now Bank of America ] was a monumental undertaking for BFL and his team of artists. It was Long's first secular work, as well as his largest. NationsBank commissioned Long two years before the completion of the building and left the subject of the frescoes up to him. The process of creating the fresco series began in Paris, where Long began to conceive the concept for the frescoes.
Because the work was to be a triptych -three related works - Long searched for a theme that would incorporate this number. He was fascinated by the ancient Oriental philosophy called "Shingon". This philosophy is focused on a belief in the three attributes of mankind: body, speech, and mind. From this, he developed "chaos/creativity" and "planning/knowledge".
The first theme, in the panel on the viewers left, is expressed through a depiction of the construction of the Corporate Center. A row of workers hold shovels, which could be symbolic of swords of shields. At the top, another worker - a leader- holds a shovel as he gazes into the distance towards a figure asleep on the hill. The figure may represent potentially unlocked.
The second panel, "chaos/creativity" centers on a jostling crowd of figures that could be taken from a daily newscast: a street person, a priest, and a figure wearing a suit for disposing of toxic waste. A circle of six nude figures seems to spin above the crowd. Their nudity contrasts with the people below who are wearing the "masks" of their social roles.
The portrait of the young boy in the third panel, "mind / knowledge", may represent innocence. The model for the boy was Long's son, Tolly. The third panel also contains a geometric staircase that seems to rise into nowhere; portraits of two men and a woman, possibly business people or leaders; and a pyramid, a traditional symbol of perfection. A dancing girl and a figure sitting by a burning tree are also interesting aspects of the third panel.
Each of the frescoes measures 18 by 23 feet. The entire project took Long and a team of nine artists approximately four months to complete. First, the pencil drawings were completed, for which Long used friends, associates, and members of the Charlotte community as models. Then, full-scale cartoon drawings were made. These were transferred to the plastered wall through a process called "pouncing', where red pigment in a gauze bag is tapped through tiny holes in the cartoon. With the outline on the wall, the team was ready to begin painting.
An additional layer of lime was put over the base coat of the aged lime by the Muratore, or mason, in preparation for each day work. The patch is called the "Giornata" meaning "the work that can be done in a day". The size of the gironata varies depending on the complexity of the area to be completed. It can range from an area of flat color 10 feet square to a patch the size of a dinner plate for a portrait.
Completed in 1992, the frescoes are a source of great pride for the Charlotte Community. Because of the nature of the fresco process, these works will remain for many future generations to enjoy.
Studies and sketches from the fresco are available. Contact the studio is interested.
Short documentary by StoryWorks.TV You can read more about fresco and this particular piece on there site. (StoryWorks.TV)