No Mercy

I just finished watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a movie about the former editor of Elle magazine who was paralyzed by a massive stroke at the tender age of 42. It was such an amazing film, so luminous and unexpected, that I was curious about what other projects director Julian Schnabel might be currently involved in. I already knew he was a famous painter and respected film maker — having seen Basquiat I was expecting great things from his latest movie and I was wholly undisappointed — but I didn’t realize that he had also extended his creative pursuits to interior design.

Now I know hotels are usually Karly’s forte, but since I’m nursing a mental crush on Schnabel, I thought I’d check out his take on the newly renovated Gramercy Park Hotel in New York:

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Is it just me, or does the (grand) entryway look like it belongs in a Harry Potter book? I think it’s the script on the custom designed carpet… I have to admit I’ve always wanted a checkerboard floor, though.

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Here’s a better look at the hotel’s art collection which rotates some pretty heavy hitters. Although I’m not familiar with the particular pieces, I’m pretty sure that’s a Warhol on the left and what must be a Cy Twombly on the right. Schnabel also included several cast bronze pieces he made, including that creepy Beetlejuiceified lamp.

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There are plenty of bars in the hotel, which suits the decor well since bar design seems to lean toward the theatrical anyway. Of all the rooms, I think these two are my favorite. The Damien Hirst spin art painting on the left is a great counterpoint to that amazing pendant light display and the red curtains, and I love the pink walls with the gold Warhol Rorschach painting on the right. The Beetlejuice bronze definitely looks better as a chandelier than as a floor lamp.

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The rooms themselves are a little… different. Instead of relying on art as decoration, they almost look like paintings themselves. This suite is very Vermeer, I think.

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The penthouse is similarly jewel toned, with extremely bold color choices. I wonder what it would be like to actually sleep there, not that I’ll ever have cash enough to find out.

When talking about his paintings and films, Schnabel claims that he’s “aiming at an emotional state, a state that people can literally walk into and be engulfed.” It’s funny that his movies, not tactile in the conventional sense, do exactly that, but that his hotel seems superficial in comparison, despite its obviously tactile and luxurious environs. I think it’s a little cartoonish, sort of like Disney meets the Whitney Museum, and that it misses much of what makes his films and paintings great: a sense of scale and proportion, a willingness to mix real with surreal, and enough grit to take the shine off the decorative.

What do you think? And I being to hard on my new hero? Does adulation always doom the adored?