Josef Albers Masterpiece Destroyed By MetLife Could Be Recreated

For several decades thousands of people walked by an enormous red, white and black mural created by the German-born artist and colorist Josef Albers, on their way to Grand Central Station. It was designed as a homage to New York, the city to which he immigrated in 1933. The artwork was situated in the former Pan Am Building (now the MetLife building). It was commissioned by Walter Gropius, a Bauhaus colleague and one of the building’s architects and remained in-situ until the philistines at MetLife decided to rip the mural out, in order to ‘create more light’. With Pan Am relegated to brand history, the new Insurance tenants felt it no longer suited their needs.

Now it has been reported that the iconic mural could again be on display in New York City, 15 years after it was relegated to an Ohio scrapheap. The World Trade Center Transit Hub is one place under consideration, according to TAN. Nicholas Fox Weber, executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,has said  “The idea of re-creating the Albers mural in New York is very much alive, with various discussions under way, but there are no definitive plans as of the moment.”

In 1963 Walter Gropius who designed the Pan Am Building with Emery Roth & Sons and Pietro Belluschi, commissioned Albers to make a mural. The 55-foot-wide and 28-foot-tall, formed with black, red, and white squares. The artist reworked City, a sandblasted glass construction that he had designed in 1929 at the Bauhaus, and renamed it Manhattan. The giant abstract mural was installed in the lobby of the building but removed nearly 30 years later during a redesign in 2000. Before his death in 1976, Albers left exact specifications of the work, so it could easily be replicated. It has been confirmed that the original, except for one panel was destroyed by MetLife the current occupants of the building.


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