In the last decade, New York’s real estate and art worlds have collided like never before, with developers commissioning site-specific work and architects designing entire buildings around major pieces. Meanwhile, the executives behind all those art-mad condominiums have become regulars at Basel and Frieze. These art-enthused developers are now transforming their offices
Around the bend, half a dozen scale-model buildings stand in the shadow of an 8-by-16-foot spray-painted rose by Ben Eine. The British graffiti artist tagged DDG’s construction fence at XOCO 325 West Broadway, and McMillan displays a piece of that plywood in the office. “We loved it for the great pop of color,” he tells Alexa into bold galleries, hoping to excite and inspire their creative teams — and anyone else who walks through the door.
Jennie Lamensdorf, the full-time curator for Time Equities CEO Francis Greenburger, sifts through her boss’ 1,000-plus-piece art collection to choose about 400 rotating works for his real estate firm’s office at 55th Fifth Ave.
“With office space, you have three choices,” Lamensdorf says. “Either you keep the walls blank and depressing, you put up weird inspirational posters, or you share your art with your employees and bring them some joy – and contribute to a feeling that, even in a traditional workplace, new ideas are welcome here.”
Greenburger (who sponsors the biennial Francis J. Greenburger Prize, a lifetime achievement award for under-recognized artists, and who founded the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY, in 1992) believes that sharing his favorites infuses his office with excitement. The pieces on show are as diverse and eclectic as his portfolio of buildings (which range from garages and retail spaces to well-loved walk-ups and high-design condominiums, like Helmut Jahn’s 50 West, which opens this fall).
Many are materially interesting: a woven-paper piece by Rakuko Naito, a 20-year-old Sol LeWitt sculpture in his C-suite, an installation titled “Let Down Your Hair,” by South African feminist artist Frances Goodman – a sort of medusa head with tentacles, all made entirely out of fake fingernails.
Greenburger, 67, rotates what’s on view every few months: “I find when you move things, they take on new meaning.”