Hugo Ballin

Ballin in 1922

Hugo Ballin NA (March 7, 1879 – November 27, 1956)[1] was an American artist, muralist, author and film director. Ballin was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters[2] and the National Academy of Design.


Ballin was born in New York City and studied at the Art Students League of New York. When the Wisconsin State Capital was built in the early 20th Century, Ballin created 26 murals for its interior.[3] In 1917 he began working for Goldwyn Pictures in New Jersey as an art director and production designer, and in 1921 he moved to Los Angeles at the request of Samuel Goldwyn. He was soon also directing, writing, and producing silent films for his own production company. He was married to the actress Mabel Croft Ballin.

When Hollywood began making talking pictures, Ballin left the film industry to return to his first career as a classically trained artist. He became one of the foremost muralists in the Los Angeles area, producing murals which still stand at landmark locations such as Griffith Observatory, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, LA County General Hospital (now known as Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center), and Burbank City Hall.[4]

Ballin became a National Academician in 1906 when the Society of American Artists, to which he was elected in 1905, merged with the Nation Academy of Design. That same year, Ballin received the National Academy of Design’s Thomas B. Clarke Prize for his work, "Mother and Child". In 1940, for his work "The Deposition" depicting Christ being removed from the cross, he was again awarded the Clarke Prize, a rare occurrence in Academy history.[5]

His primary work studio was at his home in Pacific Palisades, California. He is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, location of one of his final commissions, a set of frescoes depicting the life and death of Christ.

Selected murals

A detail from the staircase, Burbank City Hall

Selected bibliography

Selected filmography


  1. "Burbank, CA : Home". Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  2. Auchincloss, Louis; Updike, John (1 January 1998). "A Century of Arts & Letters: The History of the National Institute of Arts & Letters and the American Academy of Arts & Letters as Told, Decade by Decade, by Eleven Members". Columbia University Press via Google Books.
  3. - Capitol Tour
  4. "LA County Arts Commission - Civic Art Active Projects". Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  5. Dearinger, David Bernard (1 January 2004). "Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826-1925". Hudson Hills via Google Books.
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