Five Bryant Park (aka 1065 Sixth Avenue) sits at the prestigious intersection of West 40th Street and Sixth Avenue, across the street from the southwest corner of Bryant Park. It features entries on West 41st and West 40th Streets.
The entrance on 41st opens onto a 63-foot hallway, while 40th features a more conventional commercial lobby offering 13-foot ceilings and several surfaces for art placement.
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the exhibition needed to meet several requirements: In the hallway on 41st, the goal was to create visual interest in a long corridor while still encouraging visitors to keep walking without blocking foot traffic. The rest of the space offered expansive swaths of wall with high ceilings, so large pieces were required in order to fill the space appropriately and make a bold statement against the gray walls. Additionally, the open area would allow visitors more room to stand around investigating the art, or get up close and interact with it on a personal level.
Since both the primary client and the majority of the tenants in the building are creative-leaning companies whose employees skew younger, it was imperative that the artwork be hip and modern. Special attention was paid to color, form—and fun!
Ultimately, several paintings by artist David Row were selected. Row paints in heavily worked layers of lush oil paint, gradually forming a dense network of marks and lines. Broad swaths of color highlight and disguise underlying grounds, themselves crisscrossed by the artist’s familiar elliptical bands.
In his essay “Return to Orbit,” art critic Raphael Rubinstein explains: “The appearance of the painting is the result of how it has been made; the irregularities of surface and shape occur and are left as they occur. Row accepts but does not make too much of them because he is focused on something more important, on the totality of the painting.”
In the artist’s most recent work, the drama of his geometric compositions plays out across a new format. Irregular polygonal-shaped canvasses assert themselves as jewel-like objects, defining the conversation unfolding within their borders. Meanwhile, Row’s curvilinear forms and signature diptychs continue to behave according to their own secret logic, carving architectural paths through space.
The final look has successfully invigorated the rather plain lobby. Pops of color and shape give life to the walls, and allow tenants to interact with their building, fostering a sense of ownership.
When the Art Assets team visited the installation to photograph it, several people who work in 5 Bryant stopped us to say how much they appreciate the exhibition. Some excitedly pointed out which piece was their favorite. The building manager explained that many people had been asking about the paintings, so in addition to the labels affixed to the walls, Art Assets left a stack of flyers about the artist for pedestrians to take with them.
David Row was born in 1949 in Portland, Maine. He studied at Yale University from 1968-1974, where he studied under Al Held, who would become a lifelong friend and mentor. Immediately following his studies, Row moved to New York City, where he continues to live and work.
One-person museum shows include Ennead, originating at the Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas (2000), and travelling to The McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas, Texas (2001). His works are in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including The Brooklyn Museum, The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in Painting (1987). He received the Isaac N. Maynard Prize for Painting from the National Academy Museum, New York, in May 2008.
David Row is represented by Loretta Howard Gallery in New York.