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The site for Flâneur Hospitality’s debut hotel, the historic McKim Mead & White building, has gotten a contemporary art coverup this summer while it undergoes restoration. David Salle’s Solar System and Swamp Music now overlook 28th Street and Fifth Avenue, enveloping the construction of the hotel set to open in the fall of 2019.
The billboard-sized works are each split in two: a woman, deep in contemplation with a separate scene above. The pieces reflect the thought-provoking spirit of the flâneur, the french word for “stroller,” “lounger,” or “saunterer.”
When asked to describe the nature of the flâneur in relation to his work, Salle said, “Someone is walking down Fifth Avenue, thinking her own thoughts, noticing other people on the street, admiring a certain building, feeling the sun on her face, when suddenly, for no reason, she looks up and sees a giant woman’s face looking down at her, with musical notation floating over her head. The flâneur’s gaze meets that of the woman in the painting. The one’s gaze is returned, just for an instant. Somehow the encounter seems natural, part of our world. The flâneur continues walking, carrying the image in her head as she walks.”
Joining Flâneur Hospitality as the art consultant for the project is Elizabeth Margulies. Her aim is to create a multi-disciplinary arts program that embraces qualities that are often missed in today’s age of digital information—observation, fascination, and exploration.
“My mission is to bring art to the public and make it accessible to everyone. To that end, we are starting with the building’s façade,” said Margulies. “David’s work encourages reflection, individual contemplation, and the diversity of lived experiences—a credo that lives at the heart of the flaneur. Our goal for the project is to get people to slow down, look up, and take in a brief moment of serendipity and discovery amidst the bustle of Fifth Avenue.”