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BUFFIE JOHNSON PAINTINGS FOR SALE

FROM THE ASTOR MURALS PERIOD AND BEYOND

1947-1959


(ALL PAINTINGS ARE OIL ON CANVAS UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

ASTOR MURAL, 1959.

64” X 37”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

THE BRIDGE OF THE SKY, 1948-59-61.

24.75” X 57.50”

PRIVATE COLLECTION

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

THE CELESTIAL SHIP FOR HER VOYAGE, 1958.

(OIL ON WOOD) 40” X 54”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

THE CENTER, 1949.

44” X 54.5”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

FALLING ISLANDS, 1959.

105” X 55”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

THE MIDDLE WAY (ASTOR MURAL), 1949-59.

“THE GREAT MOTHER RULES THE SKY”

49” X 60”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

NEW GRANGE, HER TEMPLE, 1949-59.

(FORMERLY TITLED COSMIC SPACE)

37” X 66”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

NEW YORK NIGHT:

STUDY FOR ASTOR MURALS, 1959.

93” X 58.75”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

THE WAY, 1949.

60” X 30”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

UNTITLED (ASTOR MURAL), 1959.

30” X 16”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

UNTITLED (ASTOR MURAL), 1959.

95” X 52”

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

UNTITLED (ASTOR MURAL), 1959.

102” X 53”

BUFFIE JOHNSON’S NEW YORK SUMMER NIGHT MURAL INSTALLED IN THE ASTOR THEATRE ON TIMES SQUARE.  COMMISSIONED BY ROBERT W. DOWLING, PRESIDENT OF CITY INVESTING COMPANY, NEW YORK CITY.

(VIEW FROM THE BALCONY, NORTH WALL.)

(Photo from Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art: “Business Buys American Art” Exhi-bition, March 17–April 24, 1960.)

In his review of the theater’s murals, critic Parker Tyler compared the experience of the vast, continuous abstract images of a “New York Summer Night” that appeared to float on the curved theater walls, to the caves at Lascaux and Altamira.

(Statement from the artist’s archives referring to Parker Tyler’s "On Buffie Johnson: The City as a Cosmic Mural," Art International, Vol. IV, No. 8, October 25, 1960, pages 13-15.)

Photos by Ambur Hiken

OFFICIAL BROCHURE FOR THE OPENING OF THE ASTOR THEATRE ON DECEMBER 17th, 1959:


“The new Astor Theatre has been conceived as a complete composition of abstract art.  To achieve this innovation the Astor was completely rebuilt and one of America’s leading abstract artists, Buffie Johnson, was commissioned to create the artistic theme for the theatre. . . .

From the blue Venetian glass terrazzo of the sidewalk promenade to the handsome proscenium curtains of the screen, the new Astor Theatre is a complete composition of abstract art . . . integrated in theme, color and design with the abstract murals painted by Buffie Johnson. . . .

In the lobby painting as in the auditorium murals, Miss Johnson’s works express the poetic qualities of a “New York summer night”.  When the curtains are drawn, a continuous flowing mood is effected in the auditorium.  These murals are the largest abstract paintings in the world, measuring more that 9,000 square feet.  Due to their extraordinary size they were painted in 224 sections and then mounted on the walls according to a master plan.”

WORKS FOR SALE FROM THE ASTOR MURALS PERIOD AND BEYOND 1947-1959

(ALL PAINTINGS ARE OIL ON CANVAS UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

BUFFIE JOHNSON WORKING ON THE ASTOR MURALS IN HER THREE-STOREY STUDIO AT WINDOVER, HER HOME IN EAST HAMPTON, NY, WHICH HAD BEEN DESIGNED FOR A MURAL PAINTER BY STANFORD WHITE IN 1900.

BUFFIE JOHNSON PUTTING THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON HER ASTOR THEATRE LOBBY MURAL.

Photo by Lionel Freedman

THE ARTIST, STILL IN HER WORK CLOTHES,  POSING FOR A PUBLICITY SHOT IN FRONT OF THE ASTOR MURALS..

Photo by Newsday

Photo by Serating

THE WORK IN PROGRESS

1959

“Are the painted illuminations of the nightscape analogous to the lights of Manhattan?  Possibly.  Yet they have deeper and further associations than that.  Perhaps of the heavens at night, the sky of the Zodiac, and of planets as well as nebulae. . . .


However one regards The Astor Theatre nightscape, there is a touch of romantic splendour in it, a touch of magic among contemporary efforts to combine the arts of mural painting with the functional demands of modern architecture.  The mural is appropriate to its setting: for the theatre is a place of transformations, of sleight-of-hand, or realities glimpsed at between disguises and appearances––and these are the associations conjured up in the nightscape mural––and it places in juxtaposition a sophistication of technique and the direct gaze of a child into the infinite spaces of the night.”

(Horace Gregory, "The Transcendentalism of Buffie Johnson,"

Art International, Vol. IX, No. 8, November, 20, 1965, page 13.)

BUFFIE JOHNSON, ANCIENT CITY, 1952.  38” X 59”

Although it was Buffie Johnson’s 1951 painting, Venice Summer Night that was the definitive inspiration for the Astor Murals, there were many other forces at work in the artist’s aesthetic which contributed to this ultimate vision of such grand scale.  So many of the praecursors were images of sacred places and ancient cities – of New Grange and Canyon de Chelly – and of Chinese gardens, which were elaborate cities in themselves.  We should be alerted to this connection in the artist’s mind by something that Parker Tyler dropped, almost unknowingly, in his review, “Buffie Johnson: The City as a Cosmic Mural.”  He said, “. . . it seems not altogether irrelevant to say that this mural may remind us of the interesting fact that very ancient cities were planned, and governed, strictly according to the annual movements in the heavens.”

(Parker Tyler, "On Buffie Johnson: The City as a Cosmic Mural," Art International, Vol. IV, No. 8, October, 25 1960, page 58.)

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

EASTERN GARDEN, C. 1949.

16.5” X 32.5”

(FORMERLY IN THE COLLECTION OF

MR. AND MRS. YUL BRYNNER.

PRESENT WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN.)

“ART IN PATH OF WRECKER’S BALL”

    “Half of a $3 million oil painting believed to be the largest mural in the world and created in a salt-box house in East Hampton, lies hidden beneath a mask of pegboard on the walls of the old Astor Theater in Times Square and may be lost to posterity via the wrecker’s ball under city plans for an unprecedented facelift for midtown Manhattan. . . .

     They were commissioned by the late New York real estate impressario, Robert W. Dowling, to reflect the city’s poetic qualities. . . .  A critic of the time wrote that what Dowling had seen beneath the painting’s abstract masquerade was the “lower-tiered lighted windows of New York’s buildings against a brilliant night sky.”

     One first-nighter had told a reviewer that “when the lights went up between shows, the audience found itself bathed in a wide range of colors – ultramarine, pale cerulean, green, cobalt violet and various shades of blue.”

(William Neugebauer, “Art in path of wrecker’s ball,” New York Daily News, Sunday, October 4, 1981.)


“ALL WON’T BE LOST . . .”

    “. . .  The fate of the Morosco and Helen Hayes theaters is still up in the air, but a group of women artists recently took matters into their own hands at the Portman Hotel site in Times Square and rescued a major piece of theater history from the wrecker’s ball.

     At the same time, they saved the most monumental work of a fellow woman artist and what could well be the largest mural in the world.

     To the cheers of admiring hardhats, the artists struggled through a long zero-degree day to save 50 panels of a giant $3 million mural by artist Buffie Johnson . . .”

(William Neugebauer, “All won’t be lost at the Portman site,” New York Daily News, Tuesday, March 9, 1982.)

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

MIDNIGHT SUN, 1950.

11 1/2” X 12 3/4”