Behind the shell of scaffolding enveloping 215 W. 57th St. from the construction of Central Park Tower is the landmarked home of the Art Students League of New York, which counts Georgia O’Keefe, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock and Ai Weiwei among its many notable alumni.
Enter the beautiful building designed by Henry Hardenbergh, who also built the Dakota and Plaza Hotel, and a cyclone of creativity abounds on all five floors as nearly 2,500 students of all ages and experience study drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, welding, mixed media and more each month.
“The building is always full, and every inch of space is used,” said Ken Parks, ASLNY’s director of communications.
New Yorkers, with or without artistic notions of their own, can see all that creation in action Friday and Saturday as the ASLNY throws open its doors for ST[art]UP, a two-day celebration of its building’s 125th anniversary.
“It’s an incredible building,” said sculpting instructor Anthony Antonios, who was once an ASLNY student himself. “I’m just sorry that I can’t see it the way I used to because it’s covered.”
The construction screen from Central Park Tower, which will be the second-tallest skyscraper in the U.S. when it opens in 2020, won’t dampen ST[art]UP, though.
The all-ages event includes a kickoff gala, an open house featuring studio tours, demos, exhibits, workshops, auctions, art sales and live sketch sessions, a house party with dancing, performances and costumes and even a chance for attendees to pose as an artist’s model.
Plus, New Yorkers will be able to see artists in action on 57th Street as ASLNY students will draw, paint and sculpt from models posing in the league’s front windows.
9 fast facts about the Art Students League of New York
• Founded in 1875 by a collective of artists who wanted to experiment with new techniques and forms of expressions
• It was funded by Gilded Age philanthropists like George Washington Vanderbilt II
• In 1892, it moved to its current, landmarked location at 215 W. 57th St.
• The building was designed by architect Henry Hardenbergh, who designed other well-known city buildings like the Dakota and Plaza Hotel
• ASLNY has been the building’s sole occupant since 1942
• The building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1968
• Georgia O'Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, James Rosenquist and Ai Weiwei are among its many notable former students
• During any given month, 2,500 students of all skill levels study in more than 100 hands-on classes
• ASLNY does not have any degrees, diplomas or set curriculum and is accessible to anyone who aspires to develop as an artist