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The Artists of One World Trade Center

New York, NY — Edelman Arts in collaboration with The Durst Organization and The Port Authority of NY & NJ presents a public art collection curated for One World Trade Center. One World Trade Center marks the beginning of a new future in the landscape of New York architecture in itself, but also in collaboration with the spirit of art and with it, the diversity of people in this great city. The collection includes a monumental painting by José Parlá, two paintings by Doug Argue, two paintings by Fritz Bultman, a group of seven works on canvas by Greg Goldberg, and a towering sculpture by Bryan Hunt. The collection will remain on view in the North, South, and Sixty Fourth floor lobbies of One World Trade Center, where the installations will be enjoyed by a projected 30,000 visitors per day.

The inspirational art inside One World Trade Center

Today, CBS This Morning covered One World Trade Center art collection curated by Edelman Arts. 

The artists commissioned to create works for One World Trade Center were given only one guideline by the developers: The work had to be unifying. There's no mention of the site's history, but all the artists understood they had to somehow live up to it, reports CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason.

Many of the 104 floors of the new World Trade Center are vacant. The tenants are still moving in, but the art is up on the walls.

In the sky lobby of the 64th floor, with its panoramic views of New York City, Gregory Goldberg has carefully positioned his series of seven paintings, and Brian Hunt has assembled his airship-inspired sculpture.

"I just wanted something weightless and gravity free," Hunt said.

The five artists chosen by consultant Asher Edelman are all American.

"The mission was to get people to turn their phones off and look up," Edelman said. "It had to be a wake-up call. But not about the building; about itself."

The showpiece is a massive mural in the south lobby. Titled "Union of the Senses," it's believed to be the largest painting in the city, 90 feet long by 14.5 feet tall, said artist Jose Parla.

It was at a meeting where he discussed painting the masterpiece.

"I said,' I can do it. Let's do it,"' Parla said.

He said as an artist, being commissioned to paint a picture for the iconic building is the biggest honor, but a monumental responsibility.

Parla said he knew exactly what he wanted to paint.

"I'd been thinking about it. I'd dreamt about it. It absorbed all 24 hours of every day before I even started," he said.

For 10 months straight, the 42-year-old painter worked on the project in his Brooklyn studio. Parla also has murals in the Barclays Center (arena) in Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but his piece for One World Trace Center, a celebration of diversity, would be his biggest in both size and symbolism. Parla's graffiti-like calligraphy swirl's across its surface.

"I would be up on top of a ladder and as far as my arms would reach, I would do the writing. And when I got to the actual point, I would position my feet on the ladder comfortably, then jump off," he said.

Sometimes the momentum literally threw him out the door.

"This was the most physical piece I've ever done and I wanted to keep that energy," he said.

In the otherwise austere skyscraper, his mural is an explosion of color. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge admired it on a visit, and Taylor Swift posted a photo of it to Instagram.

"I kept thinking of all my best work that I find are my favorite works, I thought to myself, 'You gotta go beyond that,"' Parla said. "'You gotta work hard . You gotta put all you have into this and make it your best, best painting."'

He said he feels like he's accomplished that.

When the observation deck opens this Spring, Parla's mural will be seen by some 20,000 people expected to pass through the lobby of the World Trade Center every day. That's more than visit New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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ART REVIEW: Power of Art Succeeds in One World Trade Center Art Collection

One World Trade Center art collection was featured in Hamptons Art Hub's Art Review, written by Charles A. Riley II.


Curating at One World Trade Center is a plum assignment, but treacherous. To get it right, the Durst Organization (real estate heavyweights celebrating their centenary with 13 million square feet under management) and the Port Authority (notorious for its chronic tin ear in aesthetic matters) brought in dealer and deal-maker Asher Edelman of Edelman Arts, who set up the art leasing company Artemus to help him manage the task.

Even during construction, Edelman started commissioning site-specific paintings and a sculpture, including what is purported to be the largest painting in New York. The colorful whopper in the ground floor lobby is by José Parlá. It is joined by two more subtle paintings by Doug Argue, two knockout works by Abstract Expressionist Fritz Bultman, and, in the 64th-floor lobby, a suite of seven square paintings by Greg Goldberg along with a ripe new Bryan Hunt sculpture.

"Union of the Senses" by José Parlá, 2014. Acrylic, gesso, ink, enamel and plaster on fire rated MDF board, 14' 2.5" x 89' 5.5." 

"Union of the Senses" by José Parlá, 2014. Acrylic, gesso, ink, enamel and plaster on fire rated MDF board, 14' 2.5" x 89' 5.5." 

After a royal visit in December by Prince William and Kate and a preview for art scene A-listers in February, the public art collection can now be viewed by 30,000 or so daily visitors, some of them just settling into their new Condé Nast offices. 

In almost any other office building in any world capital, the collection would be remarkable if not exactly triumphant, but 1WTC makes demands that test our faith in the power of art itself. That is just the sort of challenge that is a red cape in front of the horns of the audacious Edelman, a leading collector of contemporary art and antiquities from decades ago who went pro and runs a gallery near Union Square as well as the new, innovative art leasing concern.

He has courted controversy as a Wall Street “activist investor” (read “raider’), as an outspoken critic of the auction houses as “overreaching,” as the founder of a private museum in Switzerland where he curated the largest Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition ever, and as a professor in Columbia’s MBA program, which landed him on page one of the Times in the first week of the semester for offering his class a cash bonus if they presented a takeover target. (This once scandalous incentive is now common at Stanford.) Fortunately for 1 WTC and the Dursts, he has an elegant eye as well as balls.

The curatorial strategy leads with abstraction, using high color to counterpunch not just history but the bland, arctic expanses of white marble and sheetrock of the rhetorically styled “Freedom Tower.” Three of the four artists at the opening used the word “difficult” to describe the boring spaces in which the art had to be hung. Parla’s monumentally exuberant Union of the Senses (a 90-foot-long chromatic fantasy in acrylic, gesso, ink, enamel and plaster on board) is a high-decibel salsa soundtrack better suited to the Barclay’s Center arena, where he is also featured.

It echoes a notch too loudly in a Speer-like cavernous lobby so narrow you can barely step away to see it, although some of its layering rewards close looking. A more cerebral effect is offered by Doug Argue’s two cosmological paintings (Randomly Placed Exact Percentages and Isotropic), ambitious in scale yet delicate in touch. Like the coursing light of the illuminated square fountains in the memorial just north of the building, they flicker with the pulse of philosophical inquiry characteristic of his work. Arguably not the most apt choice for ramparts high above an elevator bank, where the hurried refrain of “hold the door” echoes, their embedded texts require close reading from a still point. It is a star turn on an international stage, though, for an artist who bears watching (including at the Venice Biennial starting in May).

                                  Isotropic" by Doug Argue, 2009-2013. Oil on canvas, 9.5 x 13.5 inches

                                  Isotropic" by Doug Argue, 2009-2013. Oil on canvas, 9.5 x 13.5 inches

The absolute highlight of the collection, packing the kind of lyric power that nearly redeems the prosaic architecture as well as the awful feng shui of the place, are the two big-hearted Bultman triptychs that unleash an operatic cri de coeur over the sterile typography of the chrome Condé Nast signage. Rescued from obscurity by Edelman in a recent exhibition and in this high-profile installation, Bultman is himself a story worthy of Vanity Fair.

"Blue Triptych - Intrusion into the Blue" by Fritz Bultman, 1961. Oil on canvas, 96 x 168 inches.

"Blue Triptych - Intrusion into the Blue" by Fritz Bultman, 1961. Oil on canvas, 96 x 168 inches.

Respected by Pollock and De Kooning, the favorite pupil of Hans Hofmann, best man at Robert Motherwell’s wedding to Helen Frankenthaler, literary fodder for his friend Tennessee Williams, Bultman was a star of the AbEx first generation. He skipped the photo shoot for the famous 1951 Irascibles group portrait for a trip to Europe, and this in part accounts for why he has not assumed his rightful position among those paint-slingers of New York’s titanic moment. Any viewer of Gravity of Nightfalland Blue Triptych can see his importance, even from too many feet behind the reception desk.

"Gravity of Nightfall" Fritz Bultman, 1961. Oil on canvas, 3 panels, 96 x 144 inches.

"Gravity of Nightfall" Fritz Bultman, 1961. Oil on canvas, 3 panels, 96 x 144 inches.

Among  the many lessons Bultman learned from Hofmann, the building of a positive instead of recessive pictorial space is the compositional coup that makes these paintings so effective on the massive white marble walls. They project their brooding vision with a  fullness that is as brilliant as the artist, a thinker (like Motherwell) whose reading embraced James Joyce, Hart Crane, Oswald Spengler and C.G. Jung. You can sense in the paintings that he would have comprehended the depth of significance of offering a painting in a place steeped in tragedy.

                  "Gravity of Nightfall" Fritz Bultman, 1961. Oil on canvas, 3 panels, 96 x 144 inches. 

                  "Gravity of Nightfall" Fritz Bultman, 1961. Oil on canvas, 3 panels, 96 x 144 inches. 

Bultman’s grandsons Tristan and Gwyther were on hand for the opening, and pointed out that their mother, Bethany, was a contributing editor at House and Garden, one of Condé Nast’s premier magazines. Long identified with his native New Orleans and the Provincetown arts scene in its heyday, the artist also lived on the Upper East Side in nearly daily contact with Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Richard Lindner and Giorgio Cavallon. “Friz has returned home,” Tristan observed, as he reminisced about playing in the Condé conference room as a child.

Up on floor 64 the aesthetic air thins. Goldberg’s seven brightly colored canvases gamely face a bank of picture windows with drop-dead views of midtown. Goldberg cased the room as raw space, and took as his tonic keys the primary colors (two gestural paintings are based on red, two on yellow and three on blue). “I punched up these really strong colors so the physical presence of the paintings would not get lost,” the artist remarked. 

Bryan Hunt’s Axis Mundi is a slightly paunchy, purple version of the streamlined Brancusian airships for which he became known. Backlit, the translucent papery skin reveals an intriguing substructure of wooden girders, and the bulbous base is stylishly organic. The palette is glowing (the burgundy is in the same family as some of the warmer violets in the Bultman and Parla paintings below), and the effect is at least blood-warm (which cannot be said of the architecture).

Anita Durst with "Axis Mundi" by Bryan Hunt, 2014. Wood, steel. polyester fabric, lacquer, 12.25 feet high by 2.5 feet diameter.

Anita Durst with "Axis Mundi" by Bryan Hunt, 2014. Wood, steel. polyester fabric, lacquer, 12.25 feet high by 2.5 feet diameter.

Hunt was cheered on at the opening by his friends and East End neighbors Eric Fischl (who, as some might recall, struck out on his own ill-advised Rodinesque cut at a 9/11 commemoration). Along with many major collectors and curators, Anita Durst, who chairs the board of the nonprofit Chashama, was also on hand as Edelman charmed the festive crowd, banging back Prosecco and canapes, with a brief recollection of walking along a wooden scaffolding in the unfinished sky lobby as he scoped out the project.

“I don’t like heights,” he admitted. “We wanted to accomplish something elegant and meaningful, a return to people looking at art, looking up from their devices.”

The dreadful qi of the place lingered unspoken. Abstraction (as in absolute music, by contrast with commemoration) is one way for aesthetics to make a stand against the curse of a place so weighted with disaster. Some art plays on the drama (a visit by this critic to Ai Wei Wei’s Alcatraz installation a week later brought home the difficult imbalance between artifice and real suffering). Bleaching a site in monumental white stone is not the answer, either, as a visit to Tiananmen Square can prove.

Just outside the windows, the usually magical Santiago Calatrava’s over-budget transit building looked expensive but just pretty, and a spotlit Jeff Koons balloon piece in the plaza of 7 WTC (predating Edelman’s project) was banal to the point of being an insult. The trouble is that for those who lost somebody at the World Trade Center, only the power of truly great art (the Bultman paintings?) stood a chance.

As Shakespeare asked in sonnet 65, “How with this rage can beauty hold a plea, whose action is no stronger than a flower?”

BASIC FACTS: The art collection at One World Trade Center is open to the public. The building is located at 1 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10006. The collection features 13 works of art curated by Asher Edelman of Edelman Arts.


Charles Riley II, PhD, is an arts journalist, curator and professor at the City University of New York. He is the author of thirty-one books on art, architecture and public policy. Upcoming books include Echoes of the Jazz Age and Sacred Sister (in collaboration with Robert Wilson). His articles on art have appeared in Art & AuctionFlashArtArt & Antiques, Antiques and Fine Art. He has written over a hundred exhibition catalogue essays.


Copyright 2015 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.

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Unity Through Abstraction: One World Trade Center’s Inaugural Art Collection

Edelman Arts and Artemus would like to share an editorial on One World Trade Center's inaugural art collection featured by Artsy.

Jose Parla,   ONE: Union of the Sense  , 2014, acrylic, ink, gesso and enamel paint on wood, 174 x 1080 in.

Jose Parla, ONE: Union of the Sense, 2014, acrylic, ink, gesso and enamel paint on wood, 174 x 1080 in.

Fritz Bultman,   Gravity of Nightfall  , 1961, oil on canvas, 3 panels, 96 x 144 in.

Fritz Bultman, Gravity of Nightfall, 1961, oil on canvas, 3 panels, 96 x 144 in.


Union through Abstraction: One World Trade Center's Inaugural Art Collection

by Artsy Editorial

With all the care and expense that attended the design and 13-year construction of the prismatic One World Trade Center, it’s no surprise the art that hangs in the building—which opened late last year—would be carefully considered. Curated by New York gallery Edelman Arts to complement the building’s light-filled spaces with their high ceilings and white marble, the 13 artworks on display provide a playful and colorful counterbalance to the tower’s stately architecture.

The pieces that hang in One World Trade Center, all large-scale, abstract works, were chosen for their ability to jolt World Trade tenants out of their daily grind—as the gallery’s founder, Asher Edelman, has said, the works were selected to inspire passersby “to look up from their hand-held devices and actually look around them.”

To that effect, the centerpiece for the lobby—a mural that spans a staggering 90 feet—was created by the painter José Parlá, known for his jubilant, massive works in which paint and paper are layered to create abstract works subtly reminiscent of the wheatpastes and graffiti that pepper Brooklyn, where the artist resides. With swooping, intricate lines and splashes of kaleidoscopic color, Parlá’s painting, titledONE: Union of the Senses (2014), stands as a potent reminder of the New York that breathes outside the new tower’s walls.

The “sky lobby” on the 64th floor is an airy and tranquil space—with north-facing, wall-sized windows, it feels suspended in midair. For the space, Greg Goldberg—some of whose drawings are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art—has created a series of site-specific oil paintings over the course of several months. Goldberg paints largely using natural light, layering stripes of intersection color and tuning them over long periods of time in order to catch the sun’s rays. These paintings have been similarly rendered to act in dialogue with their surroundings.

All the works on display at One World Trade Center, including pieces by Doug ArgueFritz Bultman, and Bryan Hunt, have been selected not only to complement the muted and classically influenced architecture at the long-awaited former site of the World Trade Center, but to express the building’s universal ethos. As Andrew Dermont, one of Edelman Arts’s curators, explained, “We were trying to put art in the building that we thought would be unifying, instead of divisive. We wanted it to accommodate everyone’s tastes.”

Molly Osberg

Fritz Bultman, Blue Triptych - Intrusion into the Blue, 1961, oil on canvas, 96 x 168 in.

Greg Goldberg,   One World Trade Center Series  , 2014, oil on linen, 66 x 72 in.

Greg Goldberg, One World Trade Center Series, 2014, oil on linen, 66 x 72 in.

Greg Goldberg,   One World Trade Center Series  , 2014, oil on linen, 66 x 72 in.

Greg Goldberg, One World Trade Center Series, 2014, oil on linen, 66 x 72 in.

Greg Goldberg,   One World Trade Center Series  , 2014, oil on linen, 66 x 72 in.

Greg Goldberg, One World Trade Center Series, 2014, oil on linen, 66 x 72 in.

Doug Argue,   Isotopic,   2009-2013, oil on canvas, 114 x 162 in.

Doug Argue, Isotopic, 2009-2013, oil on canvas, 114 x 162 in.

Doug Argue,   Randomly Placed Exact Percentages  , 2009-2013, oil on canvas, 114 x 162 in.

Doug Argue, Randomly Placed Exact Percentages, 2009-2013, oil on canvas, 114 x 162 in.

World Trade Center tower boasts large-scale, bold art

By ULA ILNYTZKY  Dec. 11, 2014 8:30 AM EST


NEW YORK (AP) — The new 1 World Trade Center opened to great fanfare last month as the first tenants moved into the 1,776-foot tower through a vast lobby dominated by a monumental abstract mural. The color-splashed, 90-by-15-foot painting is among more than a dozen works selected or commissioned for the skyscraper.

Asher Edelman, whose New York gallery curated the works, said the only criteria were that they be abstract, thought-provoking and exciting enough to get people "to look up from their hand-held devices and actually look around them."

A look at the artists and their works:



The Miami-born, Cuban-American artist is known for his vibrant, large-scale works, which can also be found at Brooklyn's Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. His graffiti-like mural "ONE: Union of the Senses" is his largest work to date and was created as a symbol for diversity and unity.

"With the title, I wanted to convey unity among all people," Parla said. "I wanted to use as many colors as possible. The diversity of color represents people."

Working out of his Brooklyn studio for the better part of a year on the work, Parla described how he created some of the long strokes by climbing a ladder, putting his brush to the canvas and then jumping off.



The artist fuses science and text into his large-scale paintings.

"Randomly Placed Exact Percentages" and "Isotropic," which flank the lobby's front desk, are evocative of the universe, exploring themes of science, mathematics and language, he said.

In "Isotropic," Argue incorporates computer-manipulated text appropriated from literature like "Moby Dick." The text is stretched on the canvas until it's no longer decipherable.

The paintings are "about the possibilities of new combinations" that expand "the idea of how things can change in an infinite number of possible ways," he said. "I hope people like the paintings and see something different in them every time they look at them."



"Gravity of Nightfall" and "Blue Triptych-Intrusion Into the Blue" are the only selected works not by a living artist.

The bold large-scale oil compositions fill the canvas with intense swirls of blue, red and yellow and drips of paint. They decorate the tower's north lobby.

Bultman, an American abstract expressionist who died in 1983, was a member of a group nicknamed The Irascibles alongside Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. The American painter and printmaker Robert Motherwell called him "one of the most splendid, radiant and inspired painters of my generation."



Goldberg's "One World Trade Center Series" is a group of seven oil paintings on the 64th-floor sky lobby, opposite a ribbon of north-facing windows.

The New York City artist works in natural light, intensifying the color and depth of each painting over several months.

The works are divided into three groups, each dominated by interlocking streams of blue, red and yellow.

"It is my hope that the sensuality, richness and complexity of the color structure are animated by the light and the viewer," Goldberg said.



Bryan Hunt created the only sculpture commissioned for the skyscraper. The towering work consists of an elongated form balanced precariously on a smaller white spherical piece made of wood, steel and polyester fabric. The title is "Axis Mundi."

The vertical sculpture measures nearly 13 feet by 5 feet and sits on the east side of the sky lobby.


The Economist: One World Trade Center | Art fit for a skyscraper

By Ann Binlot, as published in The Economist on November 6th, 2014

STANDING 1,776 feet (541 metres) and 104 storeys tall, One World Trade Center opened its doors in Manhattan this week after 13 years of construction costing $3.9 billion. One of the many sensitive choices relating to a building conceived in difficult circumstances—it occupies a spot by the Twin Towers that collapsed after the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001—was the selection of the art that adorns the lobby walls.

The building’s developers, the Durst Organisation, assigned the choice to Asher Edelman and his New York-based gallery, Edelman Arts. Mr Edelman, a financier, was supposedlyone of the inspirations behind the character of Gordon Gekko from the film "Wall Street". Now he's closely involved with the art world, and was chosen by the Durst Organisation on the grounds that his curatorial selections would be a "fitting compliment to the public space in the building"—surely the least one would hope for.

His team decided that any work hung in One World Trade Center should be abstract. One of them, Andrew Dermont, said: “We were trying to put art in the building that we thought would be unifying, instead of divisive. We wanted it to accommodate everyone’s tastes.” Art that accommodates "everyone's tastes" sounds like a contradiction in terms, but perhaps appropriately the works make no mention of the site’s history.

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.