Friday, November 2, 2018

James Thurber: Off the Wall

Back around 1935, James Thurber created murals on the wall of Costello's Bar, a former speakeasy, as payment for an outstanding bar tab. Come January of 1940, Thurber—celebrated writer, playwright, cartoonist, and prolific doodler—no longer had the time for such things. This he wrote in a letter on New Yorker stationery to one Mrs. Bradley. The letter, which will be sold at Swann Galleries next week, conveyed disappointing news: "...I'm afraid I'll have no time for further wall drawings..."

Happily, Thurber wall drawings are preserved under glass at the New Yorker's current offices. The murals at Costello's were restored in 1972 by a team of artists, but they disappeared mysteriously in the early 1990s.
James Thurber
TLS, January 24, 1940

James Thurber
Swann Galleries
Sale 2492 Autographs
Lot 352
November 8, 2018

November 8, 2018 Update:  Sold!
Hammer Price $250

Note:  This blog is sorely lacking in murals by James Thurber. Just sayin'. Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of the missing murals from Costello's should get in touch.

Ink Spill has documented Thurber's wall drawings at the New Yorker's One World Trade Center office here.

Peter Arno did some work painting murals, but none are known to survive. If you believe otherwise, step forward.

The intriguing story of the missing Café Society mural by
 Syd Hoff may be found here.

Not all cartoonists' murals are missing. Paul Karasik writes about the Charles Addams mural now at Penn State here.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

James Thurber


Typed Letters, Signed

Attempted Bloggery's Wallflower of an Index


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