Last Monday’s calamitous helicopter crash, into the roof of the 54-story Equitable Building on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, killed the pilot, left wreckage and caused a fire on the roof of the building. The response of firefighters was swift. The building was evacuated and the roof fire was quickly contained. The crash is still under investigation, but it appears that rain and fog, which caused poor visibility, was the cause.
The Equitable Building has been designated both a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark. As an annex to the Whitney Museum, the building is home to some of America’s finest art, including a master work by Roy Lichtenstein.
In 1984 Lichtenstein was commissioned by the Equitable Life Insurance Company to create a public mural for the building’s lobby. The commission of a work of art by a major corporation was a fairly radical move at the time. The New York Times called it, “an event of major artistic importance. It marks a commitment to art on the part of a prominent American corporation that is as generous and innovative as any before”
Lichtenstein’s 68-foot tall Mural with Blue Brushstroke was unveiled in 1986, and still graces the building’s atrium. The mural depicts parts of Lichtenstein’s own works as well as nods to other artists like Fernand Leger and Frank Stella. The Equitable Building also houses paintings by Thomas Hart Benton and Sol Lewitt and massive sculptures by Barry Flanagan and Scott Burton.
Roy Lichtenstein at Sotheby’s
In 1969, German photographer, industrialist and art collector, Gunter Sachs, commissioned Roy Lichtenstein to create a work for his second wife, model and actress Brigette Bardot. The result was Composition, a 6 x 2 feet porcelain enamel-on-metal panel that was installed below the sinks in the bathroom of Sachs’ master bedroom suite in the penthouse at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz.
Sachs courted Bardot by flying over her villa on the French Riviera in a helicopter and dropping hundreds of roses. The couple was married in Las Vegas in 1966. The marriage ended in divorce three years later, but Sachs continued to collect art until his death in 2011. Composition sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction on May 17 for $1,280,000, above the estimated price.
Roy Lichtenstein: The Impossible Collection
Writer and historian Avis Berman has authored a just-released 200-page hand-bound book that includes more than one hundred prints of Roy Lichtenstein’s work. Published by Assouline press, Roy Lichtenstein: The Impossible Collection details his early works like wham! and Drowning Girl and his later interpretations of great masters like Matisse and Picasso. Roy Lichtenstein: The Impossible Collection is available for purchase on the Assouline website for $895.
Roy Lichtenstein Prints at VFA
Please contact us if you would like more information about Nude from the Brushstroke Series, Virtual Interior-Portrait of a Duck or any of the fine art prints available at VFA.
Michael Brenson. Art View; Museum and Corporation-A Delicate Balance. The New York Times. February 23, 1986.
Martin Pengelly and Victoria Bekiempis. Helicopter crash in New York leaves at least one person dead, officials say. The Guardian. June 10,2019.
Chris Jenkins. Roy Lichtenstein Panel ‘Composition’ Up For Auction at Sotheby’s New York. Sotheby’s Arts & Collections Magazine.
Keith Estiler. Roy Lichtenstein’s Iconic Pop Art Memorialized in New ‘Impossible Collection’ Book. Hypebeast. May 23, 2019.