clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Will Nouvel's 100 Eleventh Eclipse Venus?

As development increases in West Chelsea, battles like this become inevitable. From the Curbed inbox: "I am writing to alert you to to the impending loss of a New York City skyline landmark: Venus, a ten story high mural painting (above left) by renowned New York artist Knox Martin on the south side of Bayview Women's Correctional Facility at 19th Street and 11th Avenue. Construction of the Jean Nouvel 20-story condo tower (above right) on the parking lot adjacent to Venus will soon quietly block it from view forever."

Venus was commissioned by Doris Freedman of CityWalls (later the Public Art Fund) in 1971. The Mural was considered to be a major event in the New York City art world. The Mural was covered by CBS, NBC and ABC, by Geraldo Rivera and Pia Lindstrom and The New York Times art critic John Canaday devoted the front page of the Sunday Art Section to the mural. Since 1970 Venus has been a New York City landmark, a precursor to the Chelsea art scene, and beloved and recognized by all New Yorkers.

In 1998 Venus was "refreshed:" repainted with a weather resistant acrylic paint developed especially by the Golden Paint Company, a paint guaranteed to last at least 75 years. Golden Paints donated the paint and the Public Art Fund again supported the project (Art in America, 1998).

Venus has survived all the changes to its neighborhood, the dismantling of the elevated West Side Drive, art galleries moving in, the creation of Chelsea Piers opposite, and especially the changes to the building itself, from Seamen’s House to Women’s Correctional Facility. Featured on the DOCS website's History of Bayview is the following statement:

"In 1970, prior to the rejuvenation of the district, Bayview's entire south wall was decorated with a red and pink abstract painting, called "Venus" by artist Knox Martin. The mural, conspicuous for its size and beauty, has often been used on post cards. It is also conspicuous - in a culture that regards large, exposed surface as prime advertising space - for not being a billboard. Not surprisingly, advertisers call from time to time with proposals to lease the wall for commercial messages, but Bayview doesn't want its beautiful Venus covered over with a beer or jeans ad. Besides, it's state property."

· Knox Martin [knoxmartin.com]
· History of Bayview [DOCS]
· Sneak Peek at Nouvel's Latest, 100 Eleventh Ave. [Curbed]
· Another Look at Nouvel's 100 Eleventh [Curbed]