In recent years, great design elements can be discovered almost everywhere: in restaurants, train stations, and high-end homes, where flow––the easy movement of people from one area to the next––is important. And now, famous contemporary art many also be found in new or renovated hotels; so much so, that the art hotel has become common. But the exceptional art hotel, where famous original art is everywhere––touchable and experience-able–– is still more unique than common. These are hotels that are more like art galleries, where you can eat and spend the night.
The art hotel is a living trend, with The Thief in Oslo and The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas leading the pack, due to their disruptive artistic differentiators.
The Thief in Oslo, Norway is full of original art: all 119 rooms, the lobby, and restaurant interiors and elevators, have contemporary artwork on walls, on floors, and near furnishings. Its art is a part of The Thief’s circulatory system; the works have been integrated into an emotional dramaturgy, bringing the hotel into an art gallery dimension.
It’s been said that approximately $1 million of artwork embellishes each room. Upon entering The Thief, a cowering statue by Antony Gormley called Draw, is prominently positioned, giving the visitor a sense of the hotel’s contemporary Zeitgeist as soon as they walk in.
Once inside, a large floor-to-ceiling, inkjet-on-canvas work called The Horse Thief, by Richard Prince dominates the lobby. Also in the area is the colorful sculpture by Niki De Saint Phalle, Le Grand Rossignol.
Other works can be seen and touched: Andy Warhol’s from the Ladies And Gentlemen collection, plates by Damien Hirst, a new sculpture by Jeff Koons, digital prints by Marianne Heske, ink drawings by Bard Breivik, lithography by Bjorn Ransave, etchings by Astrid Sylwan, a series of photographs by Bryan Ferry, and digital elevator art by Julian Opie, where supposedly still video images of women blink and sometimes wink at those riding the elevators.
Much of The Thief’s collection is on loan and is switched out every six months from one of its partners, Renzo Piano architected Astrup-Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art, which happens to be located next door to the hotel. The Thief seems therefore, to be the experiential adjunct to the Museum, where guests become art experiencers, rather than simply viewers.
In a similar, but more overwhelming way, The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, is the 3,005-room Las Vegas resort that allows the guests to live and be immersed in art experiences, often through digital technology.
The Cosmopolitan has partnered with New York City’s Art Production Fund and Artspace, the leading online marketplace for contemporary art, to curate a collection of art within 46 high-end suites in the resort’s West Tower.
In addition, The Cosmopolitan features six Art-o-mat machines, each dispensing a variety of original artwork. Created by artist Clark Whittington in 1997, Art-o-mat machines are made from cigarette vending machines that have been repurposed as a vehicle, featuring small works of art by more than 400 artist collaborators from across the world.
Throughout The Cosmopolitan, a variety of digital art is on display, and arguably, the most disruptive are the Lobby Digital Experience. Eight 15-foot digital columns and a panel spanning the length of the front desk continuously display a curated library of digital art, transforming the space into a living narrative, combining the constant movement of human shadows, flowers, fish, and landscapes.
In addition, French artist and photographer, Georges Rousse, features his first-ever permanent public art installation inside The Cosmopolitan’s Starbucks location. So everywhere you walk, art is nearby, even in the garage.
The WALLWORKS garage is a mural and graffiti art installation in the multi-level parking garage and stairwell pool entrance areas. Artists Curtis Kulig, Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf, Shinique Smith, Retna and ESPO contributed to these lower area murals.
The interiors, including the rooms, garages, walkways, and lobbies, of hotels such as these are redefining the guest experience, and allowing guests to take artistic ideas away, with the possibility of creating similar art experiences in their own high-end homes. This is what art is meant to do: engage, immerse and sometimes disrupt. It has, within the past years, moved from the art gallery to the living space, expanding and combining the best of form and function.
Images courtesy of The Thief / The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas