Monday, October 8, 2012

Is that a Henry Moore?

Albers, Botero, Fonseca, Miro, Stella and Others
     Finding Great Art in NYC Office Buildings
Is that a Henry Moore? Solow Art  Gallery

New York City is the art capital of this country. People come from the world over for the treasures of the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick, Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The MET with its significant collections of European and American Masters, Egyptian, Islamic, Asian and African art attracted over 6 million visitors more than the New York Yankees and Mets combined.

Essential works are not limited to institutions and galleries. They are in city’s parks, plazas, public and commercial buildings. The most famous example is Frederic Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, on Liberty Island in New York Bay.

Not as obvious are the works of two artists hanging in the lobby of the Time Life Building across from Radio City Music Hall. Several thousand people stream through here weekly. I know. I have worked at Time Inc. for many years.  I do not remember seeing anyone read the information cards of either of the two artists. Okay! People are hustling to and from their jobs. I once spotted Time Magazine’s art critic, the late Robert Hughes, eyeing the 40 by 17 foot Josef Alber mural, one of the artists. 

It is different fifteen blocks south and two avenues east at the Josef Albers in America exhibit at the Morgan Library I attended in early September. Scores of people filled the exhibit’s gallery to review 80 of his works. 

Josef Albers Portals 

The following is list of NYC buildings with noteworthy artwork.

TIME LIFE BUILDING, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, 50-51th Streets
• Josef Albers: Portals 1961. Murals in bronze and two shades of Carrara glass create a design of receding square in architectural relationships for an illusionary interplay light of and shade
Albers, born 1888 in Germany was a painter, sculpture, art theorist and educator. He is best known for his series of paintings, Homage to the Square. Influenced by Mexican architecture he came to the United States in 1933. He died in 1976. (Located - lobby’s west end)

Fritz Garner's  Relational Painting #88 

• Fritz Glarner:  Relational Painting #88 1960. American Painter. Intent of arrangement of color in space is to create a new kind and depth – artist’s theme of the abstract mural to be the rhythm and movement of the city. Glarner, born 1899 in Zurich, came to the U.S. in 1936. A disciple of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian he limited his colors to red, yellow, blue and shades of gray.  He used diagonal lines to change rectangles into trapezoids and altered rhythmical patterns. He died in 1972.  (Lobby’s east end)

1251 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS at 49-50th Streets
• Pablo Picasso:  Mercure, Tapestry authorized by the artist, is a reproduction of a theater curtain painted by Picasso for the ballet, Mercure. Special commission for 1251, woven in Province originally for the Musee d’art Moderne Paris. This is Picasso. Need I say more. (Lobby east end)

Lichtenstein's Blue Brushstroke 

787 SEVENTH AVENUE between 52-53rd Streets
• Roy Lichtenstein: Blue Brushstroke, (22.3 X 10.8 meters)
Located in the soaring sky lighted lobby, which features a large marble semi circle seating area with landscaping in front of the five-story mural. Lichtenstein, born 1923 in New York, was a giant in American Pop Art. A painter, sculptor, printmaker and decorative artist he was initially influenced by the themes of Abstract Expressionism; later works evolved from advertising and comic strips. He died in 1997. (Excellent view from street)

Stella's Il Palassodell (back); Qua! Attaccat! (right) 

375 HUDSON between King Street and West Houston
• Frank Stella: Four works
 Qua! Attaccat! (3.8X) 1987, mixed media on aluminum and etched magnesium. (North, front of lobby)
Il Palassodell 1984, massed media on Scimmie etched and magnesium aluminum and canvas. (North, rear)
Sol Estoril 1981, massed media etched in magnesium. (South, rear)
Sharks IV (4.75X) 1987, massed media on fiberglass money. Combed and aluminum. (South, front) Viewing at 375 is excellent 24/7

599 LEXINGTON AVENUE at 53rd Street,
• Frank Stella: Salto Nel Mio Sacco. Stella, a painter, sculptor and printmaker, was born 1936 in Massachusetts and influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. 
Two-story tall work is easily viewed from street. 

 Botero's Eve 

• TIME WARNER CENTER 59th Street, Columbus Circle.
Fernando Botero: Adam and Eve bronzes.Sculptor, painter was born 1932 in Columbia.  
These large bronze sculptures are in the lobby. Influenced by Giotto and Piero della Francesca. Botero came to New York in 1960. Moved to Paris in 1973 and starting making sculptures. He begins with clay and then moves to bronze. Creates gigantic, exaggerated fantastical shapes of very heavy people.
Unofficially Adam is hand-on art. Many visitors grab his penis. Good view from street.

 The dark concave sloping north and south facades of this 50-story tower has a large glass-enclosed street level space on the buildings 57th street side, west end, where Sheldon Solow’s Art Foundation showcases about 20 works. Solow, number 113 in the Forbes 400 of richest Americans and the building’s owner, has a distinguished collection of art by Picasso, Matisse, Botticelli, Rothko, Bacon and Caravaggio. Though the gallery has a curator it is never open to the public. 
It is easy to miss it during the day but at night the gallery is extremely well lit and about 16 works are visible from the street. One drawback, bring telephoto lens or binoculars to read the information cards.

There is also:
• Alberto Giacometti: a thin tall man sculpture near the elevator bank past the turnstile. Giacometti is a Swiss born (1901 - 1966) painter and sculpture. In 2010 his Walking Man I sold at auction for a then world record for a work of art for $104.1 million.

Miro's Moonbird  at West 58th St.
On the sidewalk near the building’s 58th Street entrance is a large dark animal sculpture. The man at 9 West’s reception desk said it was a Henry Moore. Three web sites labeled it a Picasso. No it is neither but a  
• Joan Miro: Moonbird, 1966 bronze. Born in 1893 (d1983) in Barcelona, this Catalan painter and sculptor created playful child-like surrealistic works.

345 PARK AVENUE between 51-52nd Streets
• Robert Cook: Dinoceras, a bronze sculpture on the plaza’s south side this skeletal abstract depicts a mammal in motion. Born 1921 in Massachusetts.
• Stuart Davis:  After the Punch Card Fluted #3 woven in France by Pinton S.A. by Gloria F. Ross Tapestry 1989. Davis born 1892 in Philadelphia, died 1964. An Abstract painter, forerunner of the Pop Art movement he captured images of mid-twentieth century New York and jazz.
• Luis Sanguino: Amor 1934 statue. Born 1934 in Spain his statues are all over the world including The Immigrants in Battery Park and his first major work The Valley of the Fallen near Madrid.

• Caio Fonseca: Art Run Fifty-two year old Uruguayan-American raised in Greenwich Village. Abstract artist uses vibrant color and geometric floating shapes. His works are part of MOMA,  MET, and the Whitney Museum permanent collections.

LEVER HOUSE, 390 PARK AVENUE, 53-54th Streets.
The important Lever House Art Collection uses the building’s outdoor plaza and lobby to exhibit its works year round.
Building arcade extends from 57 to 56th Streets. The Marlbourgh Gallery, a tenant in the building, has ten sculptures on exhibit plus another in the lobby. Artists include Fernando Botero, Manolo Valdez and his bronze, Caballero, Tom Otternesss among others.

UBS ART GALLERY at 1285 AVENUE of the AMERICAS  between 51 and 52nd Streets. UBS sponsors four exhibits each year in its lobby to New York area nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

Lobby viewing allowed during business work hours. Photos not allowed. This is just a small sample of what you may find in NYC commercial and residential buildings.

Photos by Rudi Papiri