Andrew Moore Ilya Bolotowsky Goldwater Hospital Roosevelt Island

Current Exhibition

Opened
January 30, 2016
Closes
May 29, 2016
Location
In the Gold Gallery

In 1935, the Federal Art Project (FAP), a subdivision of President Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration (WPA), was established. Over the next decade, thousands of artists were employed to create art for public spaces in federal buildings. Four murals—by artists Ilya Bolotowsky, Albert Swinden, Joseph Rugolo, and Dane Chanase—were commissioned for the Hospital of Chronic Diseases on Welfare Island (later Goldwater Memorial Hospital, Roosevelt Island) to decorate public rooms, where patients could relax in a quiet atmosphere. Bolotowsky wrote that the hospital “should have a mural in its day room as modern and progressive as the structure of the building and as the medical science of its staff.” The choice of these abstract artists was an unusual one, but Burgoyne Diller, project supervisor of the New York City WPA/FAP Mural Division, was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group, as were Bolotowsky and Swinden.  

With the advent of the new Cornell Tech campus, Goldwater Hospital was set for demolition. Before this could happen, the murals needed to be located and removed. The Bolotowsky had been uncovered and cleaned in 2001 under the Municipal Art Society’s Adopt-a-Mural program, but the Swinden and Rugolo were still covered with multiple layers of white hospital paint, and the Chanase mural was never found. Over the past several years, the three murals have been cleaned and restored, the Bolotowsky by Fine Art Conservation Group and the Swinden and Rugolo by EverGreene Architectural Arts. This exhibition will be the first public viewing of portions of these murals before they are returned to new homes on the Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island campus.  

This exhibition was curated by Nancy E. Green, the Gale and Ira Drukier Curator of European and American Art, Prints & Drawings, 1800–1945, at the Johnson Museum, and generously supported by Susan E. Lynch.