The Fall of Icarus: John Wehrle’s Allegorical Mural in Los Angeles

fall of icarus john wehrle


The Fall of Icarus is a mural that encapsulates the essence of Los Angeles, created by artist John Wehrle in 1978. This allegorical depiction sits at the terminus of Market Street in Venice, California, showcasing a deserted drive-in theater with an intriguing projection—a floating astronaut near Mars. The mural beautifully interweaves imagery of cowboys, angels, and the Art Deco design of the local Fox Venice Theater’s marquee.

Artistic Representation

Wehrle intended this mural as a metaphor for Los Angeles during a transformative period. The barren desert landscape, sparsely populated by angels, symbolizes the city’s state following a period of social change. Inspired by Pieter Bruegel’s work, particularly the story of Icarus, Wehrle used this mythological narrative to illustrate the city’s essence at a moment of transition.

Creation and Material

Using oil paints and employing glazing techniques, Wehrle meticulously crafted The Fall of Icarus. Unfortunately, the mural’s brilliance faded over time due to the linseed oil binder’s reaction to sunlight, leading to peeling and deterioration. Subsequent works by the artist utilized more durable materials like Keim Silicate paint, showcasing improved longevity.

Impact and Legacy

Initially, the mural gained significant popularity and was featured in various films, including Agnes Varda’s documentary, MurMur. However, despite its early success, The Fall of Icarus faced degradation, ultimately succumbing to tagging and weathering. After ten years of surviving the elements, the mural was gradually destroyed. Presently, it only exists in archived photographs and a memorial plaque along the Venice Boardwalk.

Fate of the Mural

The original mural’s location at 48 Market St., Venice, CA, met its demise, and the artwork itself no longer stands. It fell victim to deterioration, vandalism through early graffiti, and natural weathering, marking the end of its visual presence.

Unfortunately, the evocative beauty and symbolic significance of The Fall of Icarus by John Wehrle are now preserved solely through documentation and historical remembrance.

[Photo of the Fall of Icarus by John Wehrle](External Link:

Please note: The information provided is based on historical records and documentation; the actual mural no longer exists.

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