A bit of Noho's bohemian past is being chipped away, a remnant from when the nearby streets were crazy and creative. On the north-facing wall at 441 Lafayette Street, an expanse of brick now tucked behind the glassy massiveness of the Sculpture for Living, a 1968 mural by artist Robert Wiegand was recently revealed. That creation went up decades before Matt Damon took roost inside and his pretty face showed up on the wall of the converted Renaissance Revival warehouse (a quick appearance, cut short after the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation got into the picture). Now Wiegand's ghostly mural is back, but it won't survive current repairs outside the 1890 building.
Back in the wild days the painting measured 74 feet by 86 feet. It faced onto the open expanse of a parking lot along Astor Place opposite the spinning cube and overlooked the entryway to the East Village. It was one of many murals from City Walls, a collective artistic endeavor resulting in massive painted walls from the Village down to Tribeca. Some survive, most famously "The Wall" by Frosty Myers at Broadway and Houston in Soho. The downtown works were supported by the City's Department of Cultural Affairs, as a way "to enrich the cultural environment of the city by the utilization of neighborhood space."
In 1970 LIFE magazine chronicled Wiegand's work, which he titled " ... in the Astor Bar." More than 60 gallons of paint were used to create his big zig zags in red and yellow over a field of green that originally covered the entire side of the 6-story structure. Sometime after the building converted to co-op a blanket of stucco went up over the old bricks. Wiegand passed away in 1994, and since then the protective coating has hidden his mural from view. Now a piece of it is back for one last look at the old neighborhood, where things have changed beyond what could have been imagined in the summer of '68.
· Works by Robert Wiegand [Nostradamus News - Wall Paintings]
· Advertecture Before and Afters [Curbed]