The Chain Reaction

Artist:Mahlon Blaine
Medium:Goauche on Illustration Board
Dimensions:Sight Size 12" x 16" Framed 19 1/2" x 23 1/2"
Original Use:Proposed Mural design for Paul MacAlister

Full view of gouache painting

Artist's initial in lower left corner


The tenth and final painting from a series by artist Mahlon Blaine that were proposed as a mural for a New York City interior showroom for industrial designer Paul Ritter MacAlister, created in 1939 by Blaine using the pseudonym G. Christopher Hudson. In this original gouache painting a nude uses a movie camera to capture assorted gadgets working together to become a Rube Goldberg machine, in a pointed commentary on the needless complexities of life in the machine age. Painting is handsomely framed and matted behind glass and is initialed lower left from the estate of Paul Ritter MacAlister.

Framed and matted behind glass in handsome gallery frame

Corner Frame detailing

Offering a dark and pessimistically erotic take on the skyscraper landscape that was taking over Manhattan, it's unclear if Blaine and MacAlister believed these murals would ever be approved, or if the preliminary artworks were exclusively created as an oblique social satire. Blaine treated each individual painting in the series as its own completed stand alone artwork, with painstaking detail and inspired yet terrifying imagery. The series was Blaine's last commission for some time, the following year Blaine entered psychiatric care and dropped completely out of the public eye for the better part of a decade. We are offering the complete series of ten original concept paintings, each an impressionistic story of a nude underworld goddess engaged in the horrific industry of the machine age.

These are some of the most detailed and colorful works that have emerged by the artist to date. Though, it's hard to imagine that even Blaine could foresee these images becoming part of the midtown Manhattan cityscape, the project gained at least some traction, and MacAlister created a 1:12 scale miniature room with his rough tempura sketches of the Blaine's proposed murals featured in diorama.

Miniature room created by Paul MacAllister with rough sketches of Blaine mural works


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