The Barbizon-Plaza Hotel Panels
The present work hails from the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel on Central Park South in New York, a structure designed and decorated by Lawrence Emmons for the firm Murgatroyd & Ogden. The 38-story building cost $10 million to build at the time and formally opened in May of 1930. It was the first music-art residence center in the United States, with 1,400 rooms in addition to concert halls, studios for sculptors and artists, exhibition rooms, clubrooms, art galleries, exhibition salons, and a library. Notable guests included Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, who visited in 1933, and the Beatles, who stayed during their early U.S. visits.
Emmons designed cast aluminum panels to decorate the exterior of the building which, in keeping with the building’s overall purpose, featured artistically-related subject matter such as brushes, pencils, and paint palettes. Donald Trump acquired the building in the 1980s and went on to replace the decoration with his signature gaudy gold panes and trim. Emmons’ panels were saved from the wrecking ball by Jim Elkind and live on as reminders of the rich architectural and cultural history of early 20th century New York.