When I wrote about Public Art in Manhattan, I ended writing that it’s often not successful as it becomes more and more part of the landscape. Well, what better way to shake things up than to do a renovation?
The Lever House, above, at 53rd St and Park is doing just that. The Lever House is an important and seminal building that paved the way for the glass box skyscrapers we have today, and today it features an impressive contemporary art collection. The glass street-level room is used to show pieces of contemporary art, such as Damien Hirst or, currently, Tara Donovan. The public courtyard flows into the sidewalks and streets, and offers benches, a fountain, and enormous, white Hello Kitty statues by artist Tom Sachs. Perhaps it shows how jaded I am that I could become blase about this public art, which, on reviewing my sentence, sounds pretty awesome.
The Lever House rotates the art it shows in the ground level room, but in this upcoming year it plans a more serious make-over. This modernist landmark is going to renovated by artist Richard Woods, who is planning to wrap the walls and outdoor columns in…Tudor-style prints. Yes, Tudor, like England in the 1500s. Reportedly they will be “flora and fauna images a la William Morris.” William Morris opposed Victorian opulence and yearned for a return to the days of Merry ol’ England in his work, and Woods will be echoing the move back in time in his approach to the Lever House.
For an example of Wood’s work, the Perry Rubinstein Gallery in Chelsea is showing the image below. On the walls of the Lever House, this will be a dynamic and interesting change to the boxy, clean-lined glass temple.
I hope he doesn’t touch the Hello Kitties!