The Floating Art Gallery

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One of the world’s finest contemporary art galleries can be found in Amsterdam. Or Barcelona. Or Monte Carlo. Or Lisbon or Copenhagen or Tallinn or St. Petersburg or Helsinki or Stockholm or… Wait, you ask, it’s in all these places? Well, yes, if Holland America Line’s magnificent cruise ship Koningsdam happens to be in port.

Lisandro Suriel (Netherlands), ‘The Living Room 2’, satin print

The newest ship in the Holland America Line fleet and the only one in the Pinnacle Class, the 2,650-capacity Koningsdam boasts a multi-million dollar contemporary art collection which, if housed in a building with a ‘Gallery’ sign outside, would have art-lovers queuing around the block.

Holland America Line has an average annual art acquisition budget of around $2.5 million, while those on the Koningsdam alone cost around $4 million. Photography, painting, mixed media, illustration, prints and sculpture are all represented, with values ranging from £500 to £600,000.

The works were procured by Oslo-based YSA Design, one of the world’s leading design studios to the cruise ship industry, and Tel Aviv-based ArtLink (slogan: ‘We Art the World’), which provides artworks and site-specific installations to the luxury hospitality industry. Drawing on a network of around 3,500 artists worldwide, ArtLink also completed projects in over 30 countries, including the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London, the Four Seasons DIFC in Dubai and the Plaza Hotel in New York.

The Koningsdam’s collection – selected around the themes of the performing arts, fashion, portraiture and surrealism – comprises 120 works by 46 international artists in the early stages of their career. (ArtLink founder and CEO Tal Danai says that, by value, 90 per cent of all art sold globally is by emerging artists.)

Artwork – Face with Cars – Forward Stairwell Deck 3/4
Koningsdam – Holland America Line

The ship’s three multi-level stair towers are treated as galleries, which passengers can ‘visit’ as they take the stairs from deck to deck. Those who choose to take the lift can tell which deck they are on by the art they see when the doors open. It’s all designed to immerse guests in art, giving them a far longer encounter with the works than any conventional gallery can offer. (It is estimated that the average viewing time most artworks in museums and galleries get is a few meagre seconds.) Travellers are on board for anything from seven to 115 days, depending on the length of their cruise, so they become very familiar with the works.
The centrepiece installation is ‘Harps’, a three-storey, 7.5-ton stainless steel sculpture with giant spokes blending art, architecture and engineering. Produced and designed by ArtLink based on a concept by Tihany Design of New York, it soars above passengers’ heads in the ship’s Atrium, making visitors feel like they are inside a giant musical instrument.

Choi Sungchul (South Korea), ‘Mediterranean Lady and Gentleman’, painted aluminium casting

As with all the on-board installations (others include Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar’s two-storey ‘Wings of the Pharaoh’, made of hand-made cast paper, Belgian linen and bamboo, and American artist Jason Krugman’s multi-deck light sculpture ‘Quad Helix’), key factors must be taken into consideration, such as the ship’s vibrations (which can loosen screws), its movement in the water and ‘hull bending’, a characteristic which allows a vessel to cope with stresses on the structure.

Holland America Line’s second Pinnacle Class ship, MS Nieuw Statendam, is due to be delivered in November 2018 and will also feature an extensive contemporary art collection.

Craig Alan (USA), ‘Looking Over Shoulder’ (detail), mixed media


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