1440 Broadway is a Garment District building constructed in 1925, when the street was crowded with racks of clothes vying for space with pedestrians. Now pedestrians rule, but 1440 still maintains ties to its history, hosting offices for the digital arm of modern-day retailers Macy’s, Intermix, and several other prominent tenants, including a recently signed lease with the Ford Foundation. The Art Assets art program references the building’s past as a center of fashion manufacturing wile creating a link to its present as a host for some of today’s key fashion industry players.
1440 Broadway has a large, expansive lobby with pale gray marble walls. Art Assets felt bold, colorful pieces would best fill the space, particularly a sizeable yet underutilized back corner area.
Art Assets suggested several artists specializing in textile art, referencing the building’s Garment District history. We also proposed sculpted works to awaken the far corner and encourage tenants and guests to sit on an existing bench and contemplate the art.
The final exhibition includes five pieces by textile artist Emilio Cavallini and a trio of sculptures by the late George Sugarman. A large white Cavallini next to the entry doors is visible from the street, drawing pedestrians into the vestibule. Four brightly colored smaller pieces are placed above the security desk across from the elevator bank, attracting the eyes of visitors and tenants alike. Finally, the oversized Sugarman sculptures are thoughtfully arranged in the far corner area, filling out the empty space and positioned for visibility on the stroll from entryway to desk to elevator bank.
The color and placement of the works bring the previously monochrome lobby to exultant life. The space feels full and bright, and no matter which direction occupants walk, they get to see and experience the art.
George Sugarman and Emilio Cavallini both approach geometry and shape from unique and distinct perspectives that allow the works to engage in fascinating dialogues. Individually, each piece serves as a minimalist field of monochromatic color. Together, they work in harmony to evoke a sense of joy and animation.
George Sugarman (1912–1999) is an American artist best known for his inventive sculpture. He served in the United States Navy from 1941 to 1945, then continued his education in Paris, where he studied with Cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine. He returned to New York in 1955 at the age of 39 to continue his artistic career.
Described as controversial and forward-thinking, Sugarman’s prolific body of work defies a definitive style. He pioneered the concepts of pedestal-free sculpture and is best known for his large-scale, vividly painted metal sculptures. His innovative approach to art-making lent his work a fresh, experimental approach and caused him to continually challenge the conventions of his time.
Emilio Cavallini was born in 1945 in San Miniato, a province of Pisa, Italy. He “paints” with textiles, creating canvases out of hosiery materials such as finished tights, thread, cones, and other production components. He is also noted for his eponymous luxury hosiery brand, a natural extension and partnership with his art.
Cavallini uses mathematical studies to determine the angles, placement of the criss-crossing yarns, and tension of the material stretched across the canvas. His colorful, experimental works reflect repetition-variation processes, principles of symmetry, permutations, and combinatorics laws.