Description & Building Alterations
This six-story painted red brick building was constructed in 1889 by architect Benjamin E. Lowe for Mrs. Ellen R. Randell. The roofline consists of a tall cornice with paired corbels and a rounded pediment. Below, the windows are encased in rounded arches. Surrounding the windows are Neo-Grec engaged columns, which extend to the ground level. Over time, Lot 12 has held multiple types of occupants.
Artist Robert Motherwell had his studio here between 1949 and 1952. Along with other members of the New York School such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Philip Guston, Motherwell is considered one of the great American Abstract Expressionist painters. While here, Motherwell began his lengthy series of paintings, Elegies to the Spanish Republic, which memorialized the lost Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War. He also started ‘the Robert Motherwell School of Fine Art Painting, Drawing, Theory’ at No. 61 Fourth Avenue in the autumn of 1949.
During 1955-56, it was home to artist Robert Indiana’s (born Robert Clark, 1928-2018) studio space. Associated with the Pop Art movement, Indiana’s art indirectly referenced his gay identity. He is probably best known for his ‘Love’ piece.
From 1959 to 1961, 61 Fourth Avenue housed the Reuben Gallery, best known for its “Happenings” series. In 1971, a Certificate of Occupancy indicates the building was used as a fine arts studio, a dwelling, a bookstore, and an antique store. Iconoclast Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset lived in the East Village loft until his death in 2012.
Block : 555 / Lot : 12/ Building Date : 1889 / Original Owner : Mrs. Ellen R. Randell / Original Use : Commercial / Original Architect : Benjamin E. Lowe