Gardens of Villandry and Gardens at Chenonceaux

Background Information

Joyce Kozloff, 1989. 40'h x 10'w (two panels). 660 S. Figueroa Street
Two mosaic murals in niches of what was originally called the Home Savings Tower, present birds-eye views of 16th century Renaissance gardens in the Loire Valley in France. Partially hidden nude angels, symbolizing the city's name, stand behind a wall of luxuriant foliage in the lunette of "Gardens at Villandry" facing Figueroa. A festoon of brightly colored oranges, representing the area's rich agricultural past, fill the lunette of "Gardens at Villandry and Chenonceaux" overlooking Seventh Street. These images reinforce the building's architectural references to a French chateau and link the murals to the colorful botanical treasures in Southern California. These mosaic panels, created in Italy and attached to the office tower in sections, continue a tradition that Home Savings began decades earlier when Millard Sheets designed a large number of mosaic glass murals for the institution's branch offices.

In late 1987, Joyce Kozloff was asked by Tamara Thomas, an art consultant for Home Savings, to design an installation for the Home Saving headquarters in Irwindale. While working on the Irwindale project in early 1988, Kozloff was brought into the Home Savings Tower program after Ned Smythe dropped out. Kozloff met with the architect, Thomas R. Vreeland, who described the building's architectural theme and loaned her books about chateaux. She was inspired by the gardens depicted in the books and prepared a proposal based on photographs of chateaux in Chenonceaux and Villandry.(1)

Both the architect and Home Savings suggested some changes to her design. The major change involved moving the circle with the radiating lines from the center to the bottom of the panel facing Seventh Street.(2)

Footnotes 1 Interview of Joyce Kozloff by Michael Several, March 30, 1989.

2 Minutes of the Arts Advisory Committee, August 9, 1988, December 5, 1988.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, January 2000.

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