Café des Artistes, with Howard Chandler Christy, Spring, 1934 mural, 1 West 67th Street, New York.
In 1932, the board of directors of the Hotel des Artistes proposed that the appearance of the Café in that grim depression year might be much enhanced (and business consequently much increased) by the painting of murals on the Café’s walls. There were at least thirty-six artists living in the building at the time, and it was expected that each of them would be willing to contribute a single work, but during the next year the artists quarreled so bitterly over the question of who was to paint which mural where that the board decided at last to turn the entire task over to Christy. He painted a total of thirty-six pert nudes in a variety of seductive but not very naughty poses, counting on an abundance of foliage, feathers, and falling water to conceal what Adam and Eve, egged on by an angry Jehovah, grew unaccountably ashamed of as they made their sorry way out of Eden. The nudes have been described as reflecting ‘the artist’s splendid sense of design, and the use of color and form,’ and that may well be the case; what matters more to us is that they do honor to his randy old evergreen heart. The Café is a happier place for the relish with which he carried out the commission of the board of directors; his pinkly silken hamadryads instruct us by their wanton rompings in how far we have come from those dour Dutch burghers and buttoned-up Britishers of the seventeenth century.
—Brendan Gill, 1984
Photo by Mick Hales.