Sunday, June 30, 2013

Top of the Rock & Jose Maria Sert

My dorky picture with the Empire State Building...
and the One World Tower way in the distance.

It's a roasty toasty Sunday afternoon here in SoCal (108 F!) which is a perfect reason for staying inside and blogging a little more about NYC.

One of the most incredible experiences I had while in New York was going to Top of the Rock - the Rockefeller tower that is (also called the GE building).

 You have to take a $25 elevator ride in order to get to the tippy top of this building, which is 70 stories high.

The elevator is really cool! At first it looks like a normal elevator, but once the doors close, the lights go off and the ceiling becomes transparent, revealing the elevator shaft above. The floor counter was ticking incredibly fast as we went up up up. I could feel the pressure in my ears as it arrived at the top.

At the top of the Rock, you are awarded breathtaking views of the entire city.
Worth the $25 in my opinion! Being up there I kept thinking, "Oh my God, I'm in NEW YORK!!" I kept pinching myself, it was so exciting and hard to believe!

I am in love with Central Park, and I really just wanted to stare at this view all day long.

This city is called a concrete jungle for a reason! In the picture above, I am on the 70th floor looking down at people on the 69th floor, which is the main observation deck. Look how tiny they are! Puts things in scale a bit. To think there are tons of people in buildings, on the streets, and underground is so weird. Stats claim that 8.25 million people live in New York City (not including all the tourists who visit!)  That is crazy.

Some people decide to get married on Top of the Rock!

The camera I had with me has incredible zoom, so I snapped a few close-ups of people on the streets hundreds of feet below.  

Neat shot, but I didn't take this picture. Just wanted to show the lobby murals!

 After gawking at the amazing view, I made my way back down and wandered through the enormous Plaza Center lobby until I found the exit. If I had been in a rush, I totally would have missed some epic murals painted high up on the foyer ceiling. Lucky for me, I happened to look up and see a multi-figure narrative story being told on several walls.

The murals were created by Spanish artist Jose Maria Sert, a friend of Salvador Dali during the early 1900s, and is themed Man's Intellectual Mastery of the Material Universe. There are four murals, 17x25 feet each, depicting the evolution of machinery, the eradication of disease, the abolition of slavery, and the suppression of war. He painted these in his Paris studio (must be nice!) and then shipped them to Rockefeller to hang on the walls. *Got these tidbits of info from the brochure.

I love the somewhat caricatured depiction of anatomy and the way Sert uses line to create cross contour and show volume. This picture above reminds me of Velasquez's Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan...I wonder if he was inspired by that painting? He would have known it being from Spain and all!  There were several other series of murals, all very beautiful and really amazing to look at and study.

Interesting story:
Rockefeller Jr. had actually hired Mexican artist Diego Rivera to paint a fresco for one of the huge murals behind the concierge desk in the lobby entrance. He had first asked Picasso and Matisse to paint it, but they declined. So Rivera mounted a scaffold and constructed the mural the same way Michelangelo did for the Sistine Chapel, painting directly into wet plaster.

Rivera named his mural (are you ready for this?) Man at the Crossroads Looking with Uncertainty but with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a Course Leading to a New and Better Future. However, Rivera strayed from the approved sketches and altered the portrait of one of the models, making him look like Lenin to state his Marxists sentiments. The Rockefeller management ended up removing and then destroying the fresco and inviting Sert to paint a replacement!

The lobby pillars convincingly turn into footstools for the giant warriors in a mural that Sert called Time.

The illusion was stunning!

On another historical note:
The famous Lunch atop a Skyscraper picture was taken of workers who were building the Rockefeller tower around 1932. In the second photo, you can see it being constructed there in the middle.

1 comment:

Masha said...

I had no idea Rockefeller had so many murals!