Ritz-Carlton Battery Park: Untitled by Erin Parish
Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC: Art by Deborah Anderson
Thompson LES penthouse: Custom light-box installation
by Lee Friedlander
The Gramercy Park Hotel: Rodrigo and his Wife by George Condo
The Gramercy Park Hotel:Beautiful Sick and Jealous of What You’ve Got (with Gold representing the Money) by Damien Hirst
Crosby Hotel: Lobby
The Thompson LES pool: Images of Andy Warhol created by his confidant, Gerard Malanga
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.”
At the Gramercy Park Hotel, designed by Ian Schrager and Aby Rosen in collaboration with artist Julian Schnabel, the art has big names and big prices: Andy Warhol, Richard Prince and Damien Hirst, among others. Displayed behind glass for protection, the work is borrowed from the owners and their friends almost like a museum. Unlike a museum, however, the work is occasionally sold, in which case a new piece is borrowed (like the newly installed George Condo in the Rose Bar).
While developing Thompson LES, Jason Pomeranc integrated artworks into the design of the hotel. Cognizant of the Lower East Side’s cultural history, Pomeranc viewed the art as the “intellectual soul of the hotel.” He commissioned Peter Halley to create a site-specific installation composed of eight paintings embedded in the walls of the second-floor bar and restaurant. In the rooms, he used eight different images by Lee Friedlander mounted onto light boxes. These works, he says, “set the mood of the hotel; the final piece to the puzzle is the art.”
The Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC’s art director, Deborah Anderson, worked closely with the hotel’s founder, Mike Achenbaum, to create a series of more than 300 photographs made specifically for the hotel. Brightly colored, highly stylized images of Central Park, some including various ’60s-era couples, line the corridors and public spaces.
For each of the seven room types, she created a unique narrative of sensual, voyeuristic photographs shot through windows into people’s apartments. Arguably based more in fashion photography than traditionally defined fine art, the lush images are integral to the design of the hotel and, as Anderson says, “add a touch that personalizes the ambiance and feel of the hotel.”
The common thread unifying the art collections at these hotels is the notion that providing visitors with a unique experience is good business. These successful hoteliers know that well-chosen art—whether it’s an instantly recognizable Warhol or the work of a new up-and-comer—gives discerning visitors something above and beyond the predictable hotel visit.