Uplifting: Elevator Art Installations Draw Captive Audiences

NEW YORK—Increasingly, it seems every wall surface is ripe for artistic treatment. Elevator doors and lobbies are prime real estate in this regard. From museums and stores to the United States Mission to the United Nations building (see video above), art installations are ramping up the mundane chore of waiting for the lift to arrive, providing captive audiences with a momentary aesthetic experience. Every few months the New Museum installs a new work on the elevator wall in its lobby. At least one gallery has gone a step further. Down the street from the New Museum, Sperone Westwater is using the inside of its elevator as exhibition space.

A brief survey of elevator installations:

After installing “Light and Vision” at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in 2010, Nigerian-born Odili Donald Odita has been commissioned to create “Forever,” a similar piece in the first floor lobby of the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). “Forever” is on view through Oct. 7, 2013. Watch NOMA video of Odita discussing the work, below.

Ruben Toledo’s signature fashion illustrations grace the elevators doors on both floors of the Nordstrom-owned store Treasure and Bond in Soho. Toledo has also installed a mural on the inside of the store’s elevator.

“The Lift,” a site-specific installation in the 16 elevators at Bloomberg Tower, the media company’s headquarters, is on view through Aug. 31. The exhibit is curated by Susan Sollins, executive director of Art 21, and the works are by Kiki Smith, Andrea Zittel and the duo assume vivid astro focus.

Below, The rotating installations over the past year in the elevator lobby of the New Museum.

All photos © Arts Observer

Above, Video of Odili Donald Odita discussing the installation of his work “Forever” at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) through Oct. 7, 2013. Top of page. “Random distribution of 320,000 squares using the number decimals, 50% odd digit blue and 50% even digit red,” 2012 (vinyl) by Francois Morellet at the New Museum, August 2012.

Detail of Morellet’s work at the New Museum which looks like a wall of QR codes.

This work, depicting two skydivers holding hands, was on view March 2012 during the New Museum’s “Ungovernables” triennial.

“Zöllner Stripes,” 2001/2011 (white paint on black walls) by Carsten Höller, January 2012.

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