The America was the first american liner on which contemporary art played a major role. A wide variety of well- and lesser known artists were hired to express their creativity with strong colors, unusual combination of materials and a lot of dedication. Thus, America has become a unique and individual gesamtkunstwerk itself that is not completely lost today in spite of the tragic shipwreck in 1994.
The following is an overview of the artists, their contributed artworks and the present whereabouts, if known.
"White Ibises in the Everglades" by Charles Baskerville.
About the artist: Charles Baskerville (1896 - 1994) was a renowned portrait artist and muralist.
During World War II he was the official portrait painter of the U.S. Air Force. Some of his portraits are on permanent display at the Pentagon.
Other art works by him are to admire in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as well as in numerous other well-known museums in the United States. Worth mentioning are also his murals for the Wall Street Club in New York.
His most adventurous work was probably the portrait of the King of Nepal, which he reached on foot and on a donkey's back by traveling over the Soviet Union and the Himalayas.
whereabouts of the artwork: Remained aboard until 1994, then was removed from the wreck. Saved are 6 2x2 meter long pieces (everything exept for the area above the double doors).
White Ibises in the Everglades in the early 90s aboard Alferdoss.
"White Ibises in the Everglades" reflected golden by flashlight shot during the 50s aboard America.
Ibises and Florida panther (1992).
This two-decks high gesso relief in the first class lounge is probably one of the most impressive murals of America. It shows the flora and fauna special for the Everglades in stylized form.
On the bottom left of the mural a Florida panther can be seen, whose population is almost extinct today with only about 150 animals left. The birds depicted are ibises, to be more specific American White Ibis, a species typical for Florida. Also shown is a Native American totem pole representing the Seminole in Florida .
The gesso relief is executed by a method that is an invention of Baskerville which requieres eleven steps from start to finish.
Basically the gesso is modeled in low relief and then overlaid by a silver leaf. On this silver leaf, the design is then brought out using oil paints, with several coats of lacquer sprayed on for protection. A patina is obtained by a final polishing.
These several layers of leaf, oil paint and lacquer result in a very special color reflection of the mural. When photographed with a flashlight, it's almost completly golden. When looking at it in normal daylight the colors seen depend on the angle of light and the position of the spectator. For example the sky color can vary from lush blue to pale yellow to a deep golden tone.
The whole mural radiates a metallic shine.
"White Ibises in the Everglades" seen in 1940 aboard America.
Detail of the upper right area of the mural (1999).
Baskerville creating the final details of the painting in 1940.