Chanel Mobile Art Exhibit (Inspired by Handbags!) Opens Today

Odds are that while you may be familiar with the work of Zaha Hadid, the Pritzker-Prize winning London architect and master of forms fantastic, you’ve probably never stepped inside one of her buildings. That’s not a matter of dispensing criticism on foot. Remarkably, Ms. Hadid has never built anything in New York, although the architect was the subject of a well-received retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 2006.

As of this morning, though, New York was temporarily relieved of its Hadid-free condition. Mobile Art, a 7,500 square foot art pavilion designed by Hadid, opened in Rumsey Field in Central Park, near 70th street or thereabouts. The building is unmistakably Hadid’s. Conceptual curvy, liquid in surface, it looks more than a little like a spaceship in from some distant and improbably stylish galaxy.

Oh yeah, the building was paid for by Chanel, to showcase the work of 20 contemporary artists (Yoko Ono, Subodh Gupta, Sophie Calle, Daniel Buren among them) who were also commissioned to make art that has something to do with the company’s line of quilted handbags. In truth, that’s a pretty lame premise for an art exhibit. First thought: What were they thinking? Second thought: If ambitious luxury brand marketing is what it takes to get a leading architect to build in the city, so be it. It’s worked before. Let’s hope it works again.

Mobile Art remains open until November 9th. Afterwards, it blasts off for London, Moscow, and Paris. Tickets are free. You can find them online here. Chanel Mobile Art Exhibit (Inspired by Handbags!) Opens Today