Public art, sculptures, fountains and murals at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles

The University of Southern California, the oldest major independent co-educational and non-sectarian university in the American West, celebrated its 100th anniversary on October 6, 1980. "Conceived by practical visionaries of the day and born of Methodism's nineteenth century zeal for higher education, the University of Southern California came into being the same year that James A. Garfield was elected President of the United States and Thomas Alva Edison was granted a patent for incandescent lamp." (Trojan Gallery, p.4) During the first half century of the University's existence, public artwork was conceived within the fairly homogenous ideals of nineteenth century education, depicting the education of the mind and the body. These ideals were exemplified by the relief plaques commemorating student life on Bridge Hall and Gwynn Wilson building, and by the statues on the clock tower of the Bovard Administration building. It is important to note that most of the buildings constructed during that time period including the Science Hall, Mudd Hall of Philosophy, Hoose Library of Philosophy and the Doheny Library, were built in an Italianate style, harking back to the Renaissance and pre-Renaissance periods as the cradle of modern thought and sensibility.

The 1960s and 1970s were a time of academic enrichment and physical growth of the University, and this was reflected in the sculptures which were acquired at that time. Many of the public art works from that period relied on abstract definitions of volume and space. Over all, there are many sculptures and fountains on the University campus which commemorate donors, scholars, and USC luminaries. These pages constitute an attempt to capture permanent works on the University Park Campus.

Bibliography (selected):

Henley, W. Ballentine and Arther E. Neeley, eds. Cardinal and Gold; A Pictoral and Factual Record of the Highlights of Sixty Years of Progress on the Southern California Campus with Views and News of Some of the 70,000 Students who Played Their Part in the Growth of a Great University, 1880-1940. Los Angeles: The General Alumni Association, 1939.

Lifton, Sarah. Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California; Trials and Transformation. Old Saybrook, CT, 2004.

Reynolds, John H. The Trojan Gallery; A Pictorial History of the University of Southern California, 1880/1980. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, 1980. The index to this book of photographs is located on the Trojan Gallery web site.

Roseman, Curtis C., Ruth Wallach, Dace Taube, Linda McCann, Geoffrey DeVerteuil, and Claude Zachary, A University and a Neighborhood: University of Southern California in Los Angeles, 1880-1984. Los Angeles: Figueroa Press, 2006.

"Marking Time; A stroll around campus turns into a trek through Trojan History." USC Trojan Family Magazine, Autumn 1999, pp. 35-36, 45-47.

Do not reproduce information from this site without acknowledgement of the artists and their works, or of the authors of this site.

To Public Art in Los Angeles

Created by Ruth Wallach, USC Libraries
1997. Updated 04/2019.