A mural by Joseph Albers, remade without asbestos, graces New York again.

Hundreds of interlocking panels - black, white and Coca Cola red all over - made up Josesph Albers's ''Manhattan,'' a mural in which geometry and meticulous precision and modernist vivacity.

It was undeniably busy, which was appropriate, given its home high above the commuters in New York bustling to and from Grand Central Terminal through 200 Park Avenue, best known as the MetLife Building.

The mural was ingrained in the design of the building. Ingrained in the mural was asbestos.

And thus ended the existence of a Great German artist's ode to New York - until last week, when an exact replica of Albert's creation was unveiled in the same spot where it last loomed nearly two decades ago.

''This is what art was for him: something that could affect you, maybe gave a little bit off joy to the lives of those people rushing to their trains or rushing out of the station to their workday,'' said Nicholas Fox Weber, the executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

''Manhattan'' was originally commissioned for the building, which opened in 1963 and was owned by Pan Am. Walter Gropius, an architect of the skyscraper, was founder of the Bauhaus - the stories  German art school where Albers studied and taught.

The work towered over the the MetLife Building's gateway to Grand Central for decades before its removal in 2000. ''It just doesn't work for us anymore,'' a MetLife spokesman said at the time. [Mr. Weber said then that he felt ''physically pinched.'']

So ''Manhattan'' went into storage, where it remained for several years. Tishman Speyer and the Irvine Company acquired the building from MetLife in 2005 and began thinking about how to revitalize the structure, including a plan to bring the mural back.

That was when they discovered the asbestos dwelling behind the Formica panels., leaving the original mural damaged beyond repair. The Albert Foundation saved some panels, Mr. Weber said but much of the piece was destroyed.

It seemed that Albers, though, was into painting by numbers - or at least organizing 486 plastic laminate tiles by numbers. The artist dies in 1976, but his original notes became a road map for his successors to construct the replica.

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on Modernist Masterpieces, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Nancy Coleman.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!