BROOKLYN, NY.- 440 Gallery
announced the destruction of two masterpieces of contemporary art. Two large exceptionally beautiful site-specific murals, "Creationism" and "Evolution", created by artist Fred Bendheim, were destroyed by Industry City, the real estate developers in Brooklyn, NY. The 24 feet high murals by Brooklyn-based painter and sculptor, Fred Bendheim, were in the artist's lyrical abstract style, and were much admired by the public, the tenants of IC, and by art professionals. The murals, created in 2019, had loving references to animals, the natural world, modern art, with depictions of the biological, celestial and spiritual motifs. The site-specific murals took the artist nine months to design and complete. This process of creation led to the titles: "Creationism" and "Evolution", referencing ideas on creation, and the transformation of concepts to creative solutions that the large irregular-surfaced walls presented Bendheim.
The two murals faced each other on either sides of a large exterior courtyard, and measured 25 feet by 14 feet each. The north mural, "Evolution", consisted of seven elements or forms, including a large fish and snake at the bottom of the composition, referencing the deep unconscious world where creation comes from. The forms become abstract and more celestial as the viewer's gaze ascended the walls. The south mural, "Creationism", consisted of nine elements/characters, with similar animals at the bottom. The designs incorporated the features of the walls by creating "windows" that the designs filled with color and shapes. The walls are not flat as typically preferred by artists, but contain bricked-in widows, protruding ledges, vents and light boxes, all which Bendheim had made use of in his designs. The murals' designs used these features to their advantage, playing with the structures and surfaces of the walls to create new and vibrant spaces. At the center of each mural was a diamond shape referencing a painting's frame. In "Creationism", a blue sculpture of The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared on one of the bricked-in windows.
Fred Bendheim is from Arizona, and has worked in Brooklyn since 1984, and at IC since 2012. Rents have increased dramatically, forcing out many artists from the complex. Work began on the murals on September 9, 2019, and continued for 3 weeks. Mr.Bendheim was assisted by Elina Amsary, a Brooklyn-based artist and scenic painter.
Mr. Bendheim has maintained a studio there for the past eight years. Industry City has given no explanation as to why they painted over the important murals. They originally agreed to leave the murals in place for at least 12 months, but destroyed them after 10 months. The artist tried to save the murals with a petition that had over 300 signatures, but the real estate developers did not care. This destruction of art follows in the pattern of previous destructions of murals by artists such as: Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso and Deme5. In 2018, a New York judge awarded $6.7 million to artists in Long Island City who had their art destroyed by real estate developers.
Fred Bendheim has had numerous one-person shows and his works are in collections world-wide including: The Museum of Arts & Design, NY; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Montclair Art Museum, The National Gallery of Costa Rica; The Instituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Venice, Italy; The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, The Plotkin Museum, The Brooklyn Public Library, NY; Denise Bibro Fine Art, NY; Jason McCoy Gallery, Bradley International Airport, Los Angeles, CA; The Mayo Center for Humanities, Scottsdale, AZ. His commissions include fountain-sculptures for Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and paintings for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, among others. His past art has taken the form of large room-sized installations, outdoor billboards with children's art, sculptures, and fountains made with many materials, as well as mural-sized drawings. He has written articles about art for the British journal The Lancet, and he has taught at the Art Students League of NY and The College of Mt. Saint Vincent in New York City.