While preservationists mourned the recent loss of one of only a handful of remaining post-fire buildings in the Loop, the razing of the Osborne & Adams Leather Co. building at 209 W. Lake has uncovered an interesting cultural artifact in the process. The demolition first revealed what originally looked like graffiti on the southern side of the party wall between the demolished building and the Monk's Pub building directly to the north. But as more of the site was cleared it became obvious that it was not a single piece of graffiti but rather part of a much larger mural spanning nearly the entire length of 205 W. Lake. Given that the Osborne & Adams Leather Co. building was built sometime between 1872 and 1874 and that the painting was discovered on a common wall, is possible the mural is even older?
Right now we can only speculate on the age of the artwork. It is also unclear what artist is responsible for the mural. (See update below.) Curiously, the image shares many characteristics of work by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt who rose to prominence in the 1880s and 1890s. Thanks to images provided by an anonymous tipster, we can see that the mural's stylized depiction of women among wide-eyed dragons is reminiscent of the 7-foot high, 112-foot long Beethoven Frieze rendered by Klimt in Austria circa 1902. Art historians can certainly provide a more definitive analysis but they will need to work quickly to inspect and document this recently unearthed piece of history before it once again disappears, this time behind a new 33-story residential tower.
UPDATE: Nightclub owner Dion Antic has confirmed that the mural was a part of his Superlounge club from 2002-2003. Unfortunately, this mural is not a long-lost Gustav Klimt, instead Antic tells us that a friend and artist Kristin Swain painted it sometime around 2002. Antic did confirm that Klimt was the inspiration for the design and style of the mural.
·One of the Loop's Oldest Buildings is Being Demolished [Curbed Chicago]
·Photographers Rush to Document Post-Fire Era Building Before Its Demolition [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Loop Coverage [Curbed Chicago]