Crown Heights

Historic outdoor Crown Heights artwork by Harlem sculptor in danger of crumbling

December 2, 2018 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Kingsborough Houses in Crown Heights. Image via Google Maps

Harlem Renaissance sculptor Richmond Barthe’s 80-foot-long outdoor frieze at Kingsborough Houses in Crown Heights is in danger of crumbling, according to experts.

Barthe intended his sculpture to be part of a planned amphitheater at NYCHA’s Harlem River Houses, which opened in 1937. However, the amphitheater was never built, and the frieze was instead installed at Kingsborough, according to Hyperallergic.

The sculpture, which was intended to be part of a celebration of African-American culture, features images of black people dancing and celebrating as well as the biblical exodus of the Israelites.

Michele Bogart, a professor of art at SUNY Stony Brook, is determined to save the work. When she ventured to Kingsborough to visit it, she was shocked to see open joints, hairline cracks, large holes and disfigurations, Hyperallergic reported.

On Nov. 29, Swann Galleries auction house told Hyperallergic that it would cover the cost of assessing the damage to the mural. However, the restoration work itself will still involve quite a bit of bureaucratic red tape.

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