“Hotel art” is a phrase that conjures up treacly florals, pale generic seascapes and beige geometrics. But some New York hoteliers hang the real stuff, and a surprising amount of it. As relatives come in for the holidays, you might want to park them where you’ll have something to look at while they talk.
Jumeirah Essex House
160 Central Park South
The hotel at the edge of Central Park has a considerable commitment to contemporary art: It’s the annual sponsor of the Armory Show, a huge art fair held every March, and has an in-house curator, Curt Marcus Gallery veteran Katherine Gass. Its artist-in-residence program has showcased some established stars, like video artist Eve Sussman, and highlighted others on the rise, like Paula Hayes, who shows at Marianne Boesky Gallery. Through the end of the year, the Essex House is exhibiting portraits by Alison Wright, who has spent the last two decades documenting the traditions of vanishing cultures and communities.
The Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Avenue
This hotel features works in its public spaces by artists who are so famous and expensive that you’ll be sure the art is fake. It’s not. The art collection on view is mostly that of hotel co-owner Aby Rosen, and it features work by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince and Keith Haring.
237 Madison Avenue
In 1982, when it was owned by Ian Schrager, the hotel commissioned a photographer to do images for its guest rooms. It was Robert Mapplethorpe, and the signed photographs hang there today. More recently, the hotel has added glamour pieces by 1930s designer Jean-Michel Frank to the lobby and an art installation by French collective Trafik.
845 Sixth Avenue
This six-month-old hotel has an active arts program and a 15,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor plaza to showcase it, featuring a raised fountain, theatrical lighting and a huge multimedia screen. From Dec. 10 to Dec. 16, 11 a.m. to sunset, it will host a special exhibition of the works of seven artists: Bryan Balla, Jen DeNike, Kate Gilmore, Yui Kugimiya, Laurel Nakadate, Adrian Paci and Alix Pearlstein.
The Standard Hotel
848 Washington Street
The elevators in this meatpacking district hotel show Civilization, a video installation by Marco Brambilla. Composed of hundreds of video clips, it takes passengers to heaven going up, and on the way down descends into hell. The entertaining elevator ride is cheaper than visiting the Guggenheim or the New Museum, both of which have Brambilla videos in their collections.
The Chatwal Hotel
130 West 44th Street
The building of this newly opened hotel was designed by the famous architect Stanford White, and its recent redesign was helmed by Thierry Despont, whose more famous projects include the centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty and the interior of the galleries at the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles. The interior features vintage photos of Hollywood legends in the property’s Lamb’s Club restaurant and a striking Empire Art Deco period design throughout.
The Chambers Hotel
15 West 56th Street
At this midtown hotel off Fifth Avenue, the art isn’t just for the public spaces. More than 500 contemporary artworks are on view here, many of them in the guest rooms, and each floor has a different site-specific installation. Artists include director John Waters, John Newsome and Shelia Pepe.