Ezra Stoller © Esto
February 7, 2014
Picasso Mural at the Seagram Building Threatened

The current owner of the Seagram building, RFR Realty, is hoping to remove a Picasso mural, Le Tricorne (1919), from the landmarked Four Seasons restaurant. The mural was initially painted as a backdrop for a Diaghilev ballet, but has been in its current location since the Seagram building was built. In fact, Philip Johnson detailed the wall to accommodate the mural. RFR Realty is claiming that the wall behind the piece is unstable, though there is scant engineering documentation to support that thesis.

The entirety of the Four Seasons, its finishes, furnishings, and the site-specific paintings and sculpture, was given an interior landmark designation in 1989. However, the landmark status does not extend to the mural because it is considered portable art. In 2005 the New York Landmarks Conservancy was deeded the painting by the then owner with the proviso that it remain in situ.

The frailty of the unframed canvas makes moving the piece impossible.

Currently, the New York Landmarks Conservancy has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to bar the removal of the Picasso.

Read more about this at the Architectural Record and at the NY Review of Books. We will post updates here as they happen.

The image above was taken by Ezra Stoller in 1959.

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