Time is running out to save a mural painted by literary trailblazer Barney Rosset on the living room wall of his East Village apartment. Best known as the provocative publisher of Grove Press who introduced U.S. readers to authors like Samuel Beckett and waged court battles to release books by D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and William Burroughs, Rosset lived on Fourth Avenue, between 9th and 10th Streets, with his wife Astrid Meyers Rosset for nearly 30 years. Now the building has been sold and his widow, along with a team of supporters, has until June 30 to raise funds to extract the living room wall. Once the mural, which is the subject of a forthcoming documentary, is removed, it will need to find a home.
The fourth story walkup where Rosset lived is largely bare since Astrid Rosset, now in her mid-80s, moved into her small second home in East Hampton two weeks ago. What remains is characteristic of Rosset’s creative impulses — a patchwork of overlapping rugs cover the living room floor; the kitchen cupboards are all painted different primary colors. “I told him he should have been a set director because every few months he’d rearrange the whole loft,” she said. Every once in a while he would even enlist the help of employees from the store where he purchased his pool table to change its position in the living room. “We got two big guys to come over and move it,” she recalled. “I think maybe he would change something and it wasn’t quite right. He was always trying to get the perfect look.”More →