David Novros (b. 1941)
no title / 101 Spring Street, 1970
Pigments ground in water on a wall made out of sand and calcium carbonate
162 × 204 inches (411.5 × 518.2 cm)
© David Novros / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Donald Judd commissioned David Novros to create a work at 101 Spring Street soon after he purchased the building in 1968. As Novros remembered, “Judd was using that space as his laboratory to center on the belief that the placement of a work of art was critical to its understanding. He was thinking of the various paintings and sculptures of the building as ‘permanent installation.’ It worked out well for both of us, because it suits my concept of how a work of art could exist in an architectural space, what I’d call ‘painting-in-place.’”1
Novros used medieval techniques to create the mural by “first preparing a full-scale cartoon, which he transferred to the wet plaster using the traditional pouncing technique,” the act of passing powdered pigment onto the plaster through tiny perforations in a cartoon.2 The surface unity of the fresco was important to Novros in that the pigment he used bonded with the drying plaster, becoming part of the wall rather than a surface coating.
This site-specific work was Novros’s first true fresco, which was restored in collaboration with the artist in 2013.
1 “In Conversation: David Novros with Phong Bui,” The Brooklyn Rail, June 7, 2008.
2 Matthew L. Levy, “David Novros’s Painted Places,” in David Novros, exh. cat. (Bielefeld: Kerber, 2014), 50.