Dramatic pieces aboard today’s ships do more than merely decorate the walls.
By Matt Hannafin
When you take a cruise, the idea — the ideal, really — is that you’re stepping out of your everyday life and into an amplified reality: The food and drink never run out. There are people there to entertain you, day and night, and even make your bed. Every time you step off the gangway, you’re in a different, amazing place. And on board too, there are incredible sights around every corner.
Another ideal is how cruise lines adorn their ships with art. Sometimes it’s only “art” in the sense that it adds color and line to an otherwise bare wall — art as decoration. Other times, though, it’s Art with a capital “A,” arresting, inspiring, and alive.
For the most part, cruise lines contract out the selection of their onboard art to a commercial art advisory and management company, which works with a theme and budget to add visual interest to staterooms and public spaces. Sometimes, though, things get much more lofty. Generally due to the particular passion of a company chairman, CEO, or other personage, some ships feature works by world-renowned artists, specially commissioned for the spaces they occupy on board.
Consider, for instance, Donna sdraiata 2004 (Reclining Woman 2004), by Colombian figurative artist Fernando Botero. Occupying a central position in the atrium of Costa’s Costa Luminosa, the 11-foot patinated bronze came to the ship due to Costa Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi’s personal fascination with the artist. The piece weighs more than a ton and depicts one of Botero’s typical zaftig women lying at full length on a draped pedestal, her face relaxed but expectant, her feet and legs raised slightly as if bouncing absently in daydream. …