The earliest known examples frescoes done in the Buon Fresco method date at around 1500 BC and are to be found on the island of Crete in Greece. The most famous of these, The Toreador, depicts a sacred ceremony in which individuals jump over the backs of large bulls. While some similar frescoes have been found in other locations around the Mediterranean basin, particularly in Egypt and Morocco, their origins are subject to speculation.
Some art historians believe that fresco artists from Crete may have been sent to various locations as part of a trade exchange, a possibility which raises to the fore the importance of this art form within the society of the times. The most common form of fresco was Egyptian wall paintings in tombs, usually using the a secco technique.
Frescoes were also painted in ancient Greece, but few of these works have survived. In southern Italy, at Paestum, which was a Greek colony of the Magna Graecia, a tomb containing frescoes dating back to 470 BC, the so called Tomb of the Diver was discovered on June 1968. These frescoes depict scenes of the life and society of ancient Greece, and constitute valuable historical testimonials. One shows a group of men reclining at a symposium while another shows a young man diving into the sea.
Roman wall paintings, such as those at Pompeii and Herculaneum, were completed in buon fresco.
One of the rare examples of Islam fresco painting can be seen in Qasr Amra, the desert palace of the Umayyads in the 8th century.
Late Roman Empire (Christian) 1st-2nd century frescoes were found in catacombs beneath Rome and Byzantine Icons were also found in Cyprus, Crete, Ephesus, Capadocia and Antioch. Roman frescoes were done by the artist painting the artwork on the still damp plaster of the wall, so that the painting is part of the wall, actually colored plaster.
Also a historical collection of Ancient Christian frescoes can be found in the Churches of Goreme Turkey.
The late Medieval period and the Renaissance saw the most prominent use of fresco, particularly in Italy, where most churches and many government buildings still feature fresco decoration.
Andrea Palladio, the famous Italian architect of the 16th century, built many mansions with plain exteriors and stunning interiors filled with frescoes.
A mural is any piece of artwork painted directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface.
Murals(Art mural)of sorts date to Upper Paleolithic times such as the paintings in the Chauvet Cave in Ardèche department of southern France (around 30.000 BC). Many ancient murals have survived in Egyptian tombs (around 3150 BC), the Minoan palaces (Middle period III of the Neopalatial period, 1700-1600 BC) and in Pompeii (around 100 BC - AD 79).
In modern times the term became more well-known with the Mexican "muralista" art movement (Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, or José Orozco). There are many different styles and techniques. The best-known is probably fresco, which uses water-soluble paints with a damp lime wash, a rapid use of the resulting mixture over a large surface, and often in parts (but with a sense of the whole). The colors lighten as they dry. The marouflage method has also been used for millennia.
Murals today are painted in a variety of ways, using oil or water-based media. The styles can vary from abstract to trompe-l'œil (a French term for "fool" or "trick the eye"). Initiated by the works of mural artists like Graham Rust or Rainer Maria Latzke in the 1980s, trompe-l'oeil painting has experienced a renaissance in private and public buildings in Europe. Today, the beauty of a wall mural has become much more widely available with a technique whereby a painting or photographic image is transferred to poster paper or canvas which is then pasted to a wall surface (see wallpaper, Frescography) to give the effect of either a hand-painted mural or realistic scene.
In the history of mural several methods have been used:
A Fresco(Art mural)painting, from the Italian word affresco which derives from the adjective fresco ("fresh"), describes a method, where the paint is applied on plaster on walls or ceilings. The Buon fresco technique consists of painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, fresh, lime mortar or plaster. The pigment is then absorbed by the wet plaster; after a number of hours, the plaster dries and reacts with the air: it is this chemical reaction which fixes the pigment particles in the plaster. After this the painting stays for a long time up to centuries in fresh and brilliant colors.
"A Secco" painting is done on dry plaster (secco is "dry" in Italian). The pigments thus require a binding medium, such as egg (tempera), glue or oil to attach the pigment to the wall.
"Mezzo-fresco", is painted on nearly-dry plaster, which is defined by the sixteenth-century author Ignazio Pozzo as “firm enough not to take a thumb-print”, so that the pigment only penetrates slightly into the plaster. By the end of the sixteenth century this had largely displaced the buon fresco method, and was used by painters such as Gianbattista Tiepolo or Michelangelo. This technique had, in reduced form, the advantages of a secco work.
In Greco-Roman times mostly encaustic colors ground in a molten beeswax or resin binder and applied in a hot state was used.
is one of the oldest known methods in mural painting, In tempera the pigments are bind an albuminous medium such as egg yolk or egg white and have been diluted in water.
In 16th-century Europe, oil painting on canvas came up as an easier method for mural painting. The advantage was, that the artwork could be completed in the artist’s studio and later transported to its destination and there attached to the wall or ceiling. Oil paint can be said to be the least satisfactory medium for murals, because of its lack of brilliance in colour. Also the pigments are yellowed by the binder or are easier affected by atmospheric conditions. The canvas itself is more subject to rapid deterioration then a plaster underground.
Different muralists tend to become experts in their preferred medium and application, whether that be oil paints, emulsion or acrylic paints applied by brush, roller or airbrush/aerosols. Clients will often ask for a particular style and the artist may adjust to the appropriate technique.
A consultation usually leads to a detailed design and layout of the proposed mural with a price quote that the client approves before the muralist starts on the work. The area to be painted can be gridded to match the design allowing the image to be scaled accurately step by step. In some cases the design is projected straight onto the wall and traced with pencil before painting begins. Some muralists will paint directly without any prior sketching, preferring the spontaneous technique.
Once completed the mural can be given coats of varnish or protective acrylic glaze to protect the work from UV rays and surface damage.
As an alternative to a hand-painted or airbrushed mural, digitally printed murals can also be applied to surfaces. Already existing murals can be photographed and then be reproduced in near-to-original quality.
The disadvantages of pre-fabricated murals and decals are that they are often mass produced and lack the allure and exclusivity of an original artwork. They are often not fitted to the individual wall sizes of the client and their personal ideas or wishes can not be added to the mural as it progresses. The Frescography technique, a digital manufacturing method (CAM) invented by Rainer Maria Latzke addresses some of the personalisation and size restrictions.
Digital techniques are commonly used in advertisements. A "wallscape" is a large advertisement on or attached to the outside wall of a building. Wallscapes can be painted directly on the wall as a mural, or printed on vinyl and securely attached to the wall in the manner of a billboard. Although not strictly classed as murals, large scale printed media are often referred to as such. Advertising murals were traditionally painted onto buildings and shops by sign-writers, later as large scale poster billboards.