Art by Deborah Anderson at Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC

Art as a definer of style is as old as time, and in New York City, where contemporary art is a lifestyle, it’s a natural progression that hotel owners who love art are using it to differentiate their properties. In the last decade, hoteliers have employed art, both commissioned and loaned, in a variety of ways to create more personalized surroundings for their guests and enhance the visitor experience.

“We very much wanted to fill [the hotels] with serious art, and our view was you could make a statement in a brand environment by using local artists to identify the location of the hotels themselves,” says Philip E. Aarons, cofounder of Millennium Partners. At the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park, the public walls are covered with works of contemporary New York artists, both emerging and more established. And it’s no small commitment—at Battery Park four emerging artists were commissioned to create an original artwork for each guest room. Providing exhibition spaces that Aarons describes as “almost an annex” to a gallery, Millennium gives financial and creative support to artists. Although the works are not for sale while at the hotel, the artists have sold their works to a public collection as a result of their exhibition in a public space.

The Crosby Hotel also displays art acquired by the owners specifically for the hotel. According to co-owner and designer Kit Kemp, the hotel uses art “inspired by the written word, as we always liked the idea of a hotel being used as a salon for aspiring artists, writers and creative people.… We wanted to make an environment that would inspire them.”

Mixing pieces by established artists, such as Juame Plensa’s 10-foot white sculpture or Anselm Kiefer’s oversize collage, with those of less well-known talents like Peter Blake, the hotel has a playful, collage feel. “It doesn’t matter if an artist is more or less well-known,” says Kemp. “It’s the way they execute on the canvas. It should be fun and make you smile.”

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