By SHANA NYS DAMBROT, DEC. 2017
Hotel Art used to be a dirty word, but the days of pastoral low-rent Impressionism in tacky frames is over, and we are well into a new normal where original works from edgy street art to A-list fine art are not only welcome but de rigueur for any self-respecting fashion-forward hospitality concept. The way the Moxy brand does it is a little of both, plus an added dimension of unique local flavor in each property’s signature large scale commissions. They invite illustrators, photographers, installation artists, sculptors, draftsmen, street, and graffiti artists to submit their work and join the Blank Canvas competition.
The Moxy Frankfurt East opened in October, where I had a chance to chat with the winner of the latest edition of the brand’s global initiative that invites artists to submit works, and the public to help choose the winners. The resulting new piece in Frankfurt is by Tobias Kremmel (aka Edward Langlais) whose “Love You Goethe” mural animates the hotel’s public space with a bright but moody, art historical and folkloric story that captures, in image and text, the old-is-new energy of the neighborhood -- a reemerging part of the city once on the industrial fringe but currently undergoing a cultural and architectural renaissance. As an artist, Krimmel’s background includes a lot of advertising and film work, as well as automotive design which remains his true love; and as a native local of Frankfurt, in the end it was his deeply-rooted appreciation for the nuances of life in the city today and its backdrop of history which won the day.
The eccentric color story and tertiary palette of fuchsia, gold, slate-grey, and pistachio is sophisticated and chic, while puns of both language and scale infuse the elevated motif with jaunty humor and a sort of gothic-inflected graffiti. “Getting away with it…” is the Moxy slogan, but it suits the silhouettes of dancing figures in the glowing shadows of the old bridge, and the quirky noir of the riverfront. It’s on a classic wooden bench, the kind that still dot the renovated riverwalk, where we find our hero, the great poet Goethe, the city’s patron saint and favorite son. His reclining pose and flouncy dress are a direct homage to a the classic “Goethe in the Roman Campagna” from 1787 by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, a German Neoclassical painter, depicting Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as the writer was travelling in Italy. The portrait, which hangs in state in the city’s Städel Museum and is widely reproduced to the point of being synonymous with the man. The bench where he sits has been carved with “Love You Goethe” -- a reference to the infamous “Fuck You, Goethe,” a 2013 German heist comedy with a philosophical dimension.
Our Goethe contemplates the running river, the Meine which divides the city but also connects it, and its ripples echoed in the cut crystal lattice of the locally famous Geripptes-style glass, towering over our poet like a monument, brimming with the liquid gold of the local apple wine. The mural exists not only to activate the shared public space, encouraging selfies and conversation. It faces the bar, which is where you check in. Fun fact: There’s no concierge, only bartenders. But it’s also meant to serve as a kind of tone-setting launchpad out into the city -- one that offers soulful emblems of the city’s personality, and like all the Moxy spots, is specific to its context.
Follow Tobias Kremmel on Instagram.
Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Los Angeles. She is currently LA Editor for Whitehot Magazine, Contributing Editor to Art Ltd., and a contributor to KCET’s Artbound, Flaunt, Huffington Post, The Creators Project, Vs. Magazine, Palm Springs Life, Montage, Desert Magazine, LA Review of Books, and Porter & Sail. She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes loads of essays for art books and exhibition catalogs, curates and/or juries a few exhibitions each year, sometimes exhibits her photography and publishes short fiction, and speaks in public at galleries, schools, and cultural institutions nationally. An account of her activities is sometimes updated at sndx.net.
Photo of Shana Nys Dambrot by Osceola Refetoff
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