ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER, NEW YORK CITY
Visitors will be greeted by a huge, 90-foot mural (pictured) that the Durst Organisation says may be the largest of its kind in New York. It is the work of José Parlá, a Brooklyn-based artist who has painted murals at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Barclays Center. Mr Parlá worked on it for about eight months in his studio and then for two weeks on site. He wants the colourful, jewel-toned piece, which is covered in his signature, graffiti-esque script and titled “ONE: Union of the Senses”, to stand as a symbol of diversity. “It was very important to me that this painting would reflect a massive respect to the situation and event and the families, and a massive respect for the site,” he said.
For elsewhere in the building, Mr Edelman and his team chose work by four other artists. In the back lobby hang two subdued canvases by the late Fritz Bultman, an abstract expressionist represented by Mr Edelman, and in the front are two by Doug Argue, a Minneosotan fond of incorporating maths and science into his art. He too was once represented by Mr Edelman. On the 64th-floor sky lobby will be seven pieces by Greg Goldberg and a sculpture by Bryan Hunt.
It is Mr Parlá’s lively mural that dominates, though. Such a colourful work was deemed suitable for the front lobby “because that’s where people come in the morning,” said Mr Edelman. Mr Bultman’s paintings on the other side are calmer, “because that’s the black limousine side”. The Durst Organisation reckons that some 20,000 people will enter the building each day and see Mr Parlá’s mural. That's not a bad audience for a piece of art: the Metropolitan Museum of Art has around 17,000 visitors a day.
“I think that the role of the art is to create life within a building,” said Mr Edelman. “It’s not just about white marble walls, it’s about spirit and life. From the building’s point of view, it’s about branding, and something that is beyond the simple walls.”
It seems optimistic to assert that these paintings will become part of the branding of a skyscraper whose very existence is loaded with such poignancy. But at the same time it is good to see a heavy emphasis on the importance of public art: visitors will soon work out if it really is to all tastes.