Curating Hotels

Interview with Art Consultant & Curator Idit Orni


The founder and owner of Vienna's Max Brown 7th District Hotel, Mr. Liran Wizman, is a passionate art collector himself, for whom expanding the living function of the hotel to include an exhibition space was a natural move. His agenda is to promote the local fine art scene, represented through emerging, mid-career and well-established Viennese artists. Mrs. Idit Orni, an art specialist, was invited to co-shape the hotel's interior. She played a key role in establishing Max Brown 7th District’s identity and in an interview for Where About Now she reveals the strategy she used for this concept realization.

Where About Now Can you tell us about your professional background?

Idit Orni I have an MA in contemporary art and I’m an Independent Art Consultant & Curator based in London with over 15 years of experience in the international art world. My career started at Sotheby’s auction house within the private client section and with a focus on contemporary art.

Andreas Duscha, To Confuse, Not Conceal 1, 2016
Nick Oberthaler, Untitled, Ex/Proposal/After G.G., 2019

WAN What were the challenges of treating a hotel as an exhibition space for art? How does this experience differ from working in designated art spaces?

IO The limitation of artist choice is challenging in a good way. The aim of the hotel was to bring local artists together. You need to be aware of the subject matter, hence no political, dark subject, no fragile sculptures, etc. could be exposed in the rooms. I needed to do a lot of research, studio visits, gallery hopping and art fairs attending on site.

WAN How did you decide on the selection of works?

IO The merit and quality is key. We don’t want decoration. We want art that triggers minds and inspires souls. After researching local artists, in the case of Max Brown Vienna, I intended to offer a broad overview of art in that respective city. It is important to represent artists who communicate the spirit of Viennese art and the flavour of the place such as Renate Bertlmann, who was shown at the Austrian Pavilion at the last Venice Biennial, for instance.

Renate Bertlmann, Tender Touches, 1976/2009
Renate Bertlmann, Tender Touches, 1976/2009

WAN What is your perception of art displayed in a public space such as a hotel, which at the same time creates and functions as a private habitat?

IO People tend to see more (in) art in realms such as hotels and restaurants. One goes to a museum intentionally, and if you are not familiar with the arts it can be intimidating. While, for instance, in the laid back setting of hotels, art comes for the viewer. It moves something in them.

Raffaela Bielesch, Carrot Revolution, 2019
Drago Persic, Colour Grey Sequence 01, 2019

WAN How do you think the artistically conceptualized rooms affect guests' experience?

IO I think they experience another layer of the city through local art. It enables an echo of various aspects of the hotel. For instance, the legendary chef Eyal Shani of the hotel’s own restaurant, keeps berries hanging in fabrics in the open kitchen. After a while, the red juice starts dropping. Here I see an interrelation to Renate Bertlmann’s Tender Touches series.

WAN What is your personal relation to hotels?

IO I travel extensively for work because I need to see art on site and in person, therefore, I spend a lot of time in hotels all over the world.

Philipp Timischl, Art For All Age Groups, 2018
Julia Faber, Method 4/5: A Stiff Breeze, 2019

WAN What are the future plans for the collection?

IO One of our ideas for the future is to exchange the collections between the hotels in order to further promote artists and give them an international platform.

Header image: Deborah Sengl, Zebralion 1, 2018 (Hansy)

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