By Melissa Locker
September 11, 2015
Roy Lichtenstein
Credit: © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Back in 1983, Pop-Art progenitor Roy Lichtenstein painted a massive whimsical mural on the wall of Leo Castelli’s SoHo gallery. Titled the Greene Street Mural, the piece lived on the wall for just a short time span before it was destroyed to make room for new work.

New York’s Gagosian Gallery has re-created the mural, and art aficionados and history buffs have a little more than a month to see the work before it is once again gone.

Intended to just be a temporary installation, the Greene Street Mural was a fleeting display to be captured only by memories and never sold. Its panels stand 18-feet tall and are filled with a strange array of items—extension cords, rolls of tape, a slice of Swiss Cheese, an homage to Pablo Picasso—all rendered in Lichtenstein’s trademark cartoonish style.

While the mural was created in those halcyon pre-Instagram days, it was captured on camera. It’s those photographs, along with drawings and sketches from Lichtenstein’s studio—and the memories of the artist’s widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein—that let the gallery re-create the work.

A team of painters labored under the guidance of Lichtenstein’s former studio assistant Rob McKeever, who worked with Lichtenstein on the original piece. To create the full-scale replica of the 96-foot long work in the gallery, the painters worked for five days, taking care to recreate every detail and carefully matching each of Lichtenstein’s vibrant hues. The result is a time-traveler’s daydream, letting viewers see a painting that was destroyed some 30 odd years ago.

The replica of Greene Street Mural will be on display at Gagosian’s Chelsea gallery until October 17. Alongside the piece, the gallery will display related drawings and studies, as well as paintings and sculptures from Lichtenstein’s prolific career, including some that were part of the original exhibition held at the Castelli Gallery. Like the original, the replica is not for sale and will be destroyed, again, after its five-week run at the gallery.

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