Art. Literature. Philosophical conversations. These are just a few of my favorite things.
When dreaming about my reimagined home, The Newbury Boston, I knew I had to create a place where modern makers, community, and contemporary culture converge. What was born from this thinking is a 21st Century Salon for the Arts.
Inspired by the legendary salons of Europe, my salon is carefully curated and filled with contemporary artists who are shaping today’s art world with new ideas and innovative techniques. At the heart of my inspiration is Isabella Stewart Gardner, a 19th Century Bostonian who hosted artists, writers, musicians and fashion designers in her palace residence which later became a gathering spot for connoisseurs and critics.
So how does one go about creating a modern day Salon for the Arts? Well, with the help of good friends, of course! I tapped insiders Lynne Kortenhaus and Mike Carroll, who together have more than three decades of experience working with clients and collectors in the world of fine art.
Together, we created an art collection that speaks to the history of our city and illuminates the property with elegance, style, rich visual flavor and a bit of wit. We selected works from a diverse group of emerging painters, sculptors and photographers as seen in The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) and Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, among many other important cultural institutions.
Read on to discover more about the process we underwent in choosing our showcased artists, and why our Salon will be a must-visit for any aesthete coming to town.
A Q&A with the Salon Curators, Lynne Kortenhaus and Mike Carroll:
How did you approach your curation and selection of artists for this project?
We started with time and place. Time: for its endlessness, its possibility and as a container for memories. A sense of place: for what the property has meant for Boston, what it is for travelers, and for the ways that ideas about place have changed in contemporary society.
How did you see the artists in this room coming together?
We found artists who are mid-career to senior experts in their own practices and often teach, write, and curate from the positions as recognized masters, many of whom are important contributors to material culture in and around Boston. Ultimately, we wanted the collection to reach back into history and to consider Boston’s important salons for art, writing and education as a source, texture and backdrop. The art in the collection is often formal, but in its execution it reveals evidence of the artists’ process and techniques. However, all of the artists in this collection have at some point made a contemporary interjection into their artworks, an innovation that may be a shift in thinking, perception, material or scale that creates a doorway for new ways to see the work, the world and The Newbury, as well as to reconsider ideas that have defined art history.
What about each artist is special to The Newbury Boston and its guests?
Each artist has his/her own story and journey – much like every guest who has stayed at the hotel over its illustrious history. Every artist is passionate about making art that is relevant, beautiful and takes the viewer on their own journey through the artists’ lens.
Are there any grand stories to tell about sourcing the pieces for the collection?
One fun story is about the painting behind the desk in the lobby, a painting titled, ‘Dejeuner’ by Elise Ansel. Elise makes her work by translating Old Master paintings into a contemporary pictorial language, using the Old Masters as points of departure. These paintings are reinterpreted through a lens of gestural abstraction and incorporate her significant skills and her trust in improvisational freedom.
‘Dejeuner’ considers the well-known masterpiece, ‘Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass’) by Edouard Manet created in 1862 and 1863 depicting a nude woman casually lunching with two fully dressed men in a beautiful park. The woman stares directly at the viewer, breaking forms of the day and becoming a witness and guide for the viewer. As Elise painted this work for the collection at The Newbury she was taken by the similarities of the park in the original painting and Boston’s Public Garden, the beautiful park that ‘Dejeuner’ faces directly from its position in the hotel.
Any tips for people at home looking to create their own version of a Salon for the Arts?
Don’t be afraid to look, ask questions, engage with artists, designers, gallerists to learn more about the art that interests you. Assembling artworks is a way of asking how we love objects and how they love us in response. Making A Salon for the Arts is a way of gathering people and ideas in conversation and contributing to material culture and history to boot.