The Master Apartments, former home of The Riverside Museum and Master Institute of the Arts, will celebrate its 90th anniversary this year. To commemorate this milestone anniversary, The Master will honor its artistic heritage with an exhibition of work by New York City artist Anna Walinska. Anna Walinska: Return to the Riverside showcases works created during the artist’s seventeen year studio residency at the Master. Curated by Michael Alicia and Jan Fort, the exhibitio features drawings, paintings and collages that display Walinska’s wide range and talent as an abstract expressionist. If you are an Untapped New York Insider, you can join us for a special tour of this new exhibition and historic Upper West Side landmark on December 19th. The tour will be led by Walinska’s niece Rosina Rubin and curator Michael Alicia.

The Master Apartments were built in 1928-1929 with funding from art patrons Louis and Nettie Horch, in collaboration with Russian artist Nicholas Roerich. The building is named for the Master Institute of United Arts which Roerich and the Horches founded in 1921. The school was originally housed inside a mansion that Louis Horch owned at 310 Riverside Drive. The Riverside mansion was torn down in 1928 to make way for a towering new structure designed by Harvey Wiley Corbet. The new, larger building would better suit the needs of the growing school and Roerich’s growing collection of paintings.

Black and orange abstract painting by Anna Walinska

The new building contained twenty-four stories of apartments above three floors devoted to solely to artistic endeavors. The lower levels contained The Roerich Museum, galleries, theaters, exhibition halls and two libraries. Corbett’s design features all of the iconic elements of Art Deco architecture. There are setbacks, patterned brick work, and an elaborate ornamental cap. After the stock market crash and the souring of Horch and Roerich’s relationship in the early 1930s, Louis Horch and his wife took over the building.

Colorful abstract painting by Anna Walinska

The first three floors were renamed The Riverside Museum and operated as such until 1971. Anna Walinska began her  relationship with the building in 1954 when she became an artist in residence and a teacher at The Master Institute. Over the course of her seventeen year tenure with the Institute, Walinska showed her work in at least sixteen exhibits at The Riverside Museum. Her art was shown alongside other emerging artists, including Louise Nevelson, Milton Avery, and Jasper Johns. The pieces she created inside The Master building went on to be shown in major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Le Chateau de la Napoule in France.

The building was converted into a residential cooperative in 1988.  Even after the museum closed, the building retained its artistic flair. Many of the building’s residents continue to be artists, actors, musicians and dancers. The Master Gallery, an exhibition space in the renovated lobby where the Museum once operated, continually hosts events and exhibitions. Anna Walinska: Return to the Riverside is now on display inside the The Master Gallery and will remain on view through January 24, 2020.

A gray portrait by Anna Walinska

Hear stories about Anna Walinska and her artistic friends at The Master on our upcoming tour with Walinska’s niece Rosina Rubin. The tour will feature a walkthrough of the exhibition and access to an active artist studio. If you are an Untapped New York Insider, you can join this special tour on December 19th. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain access to behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long.

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