Omnia Vanitas: The Triumph of Thanatos and Narcissus in Oz
New York, NY | The Wicked Witch of the West has been defeated, luckily she left behind her Manolo.
Axis Mundi, known for causing mischief with their architectural hacking and alternative proposals of important architectural designs by others, are at it again - this time proposing to bring art (and fashion) across Park Avenue to the Seagram Building plaza. For years Lever House has been home to works such as Damien Hirst's "Virgin Mother," E.V Day's "Bride Fight," and Tom Sachs' "Bronze Collection." Axis Mundi strives to cultivate the art culture intrinsic to the area, across the Avenue, at 375.
In a city where space is the hottest commodity, Axis Mundi seeks to revitalize this common area with the sense of glamour inherent to Midtown. Omnia Vanitas, or The Triumph of Thanatos and Narcissus in Oz, is a proposed sculpture of a skeletal foot wedged into a diamond-encrusted Manolo Blahnik sandal – and yes, they bought the sandals.
With inspiration drawing from medieval funerary art to Northern European still-life paintings from the 16th and 17th Century, the proposed sculpture would stand 30’ tall. Vanitas themes in art play on the certainty of death and mainly survive today through sculpture.
Thanatos was the Greek god, or daemon, of non-violent, natural, death – quite similar to the embracing of death found in the Vanitas motif. Naricissus, a beautiful hero who was cursed to love his own reflection, symbolizes the vanity in life, the desire for luxe and the coveting of aesthetics. Omnia Vanitas, would stand to honor “The Triumph of Thanatos and Narcissus of Oz” with a satirical twist to the Oz story.
Omnia Vanitas, loosely translated to ‘all is vanity’ or ‘everything is meaningless,’ describes the frailty of life and the value of the time we are given. The Seagram Building is viewed as the pinnacle for high-rise modernism, an iconic landmark – with its remarkable Plaza serving as one of the most popular public/private spaces in New York City. Its neighbor, the legendary Lever House, is known for its striking glass facade and alluring plaza and lobby, which have housed numerous installations and exhibitions from some of the world’s finest artists. Manhattan, often revered as the fashion capital of the world, has long embraced the gift of design whether through art, fashion or architecture. The stainless steel sculpture would bring a sense of haute modernity to the otherwise barren space, complimenting Mies’ design. Omnia Vanitas would be testament to the dead, to the living, to art and to fashion.
Axis Mundi is confident the Plaza guests crave that Manolo Blahnik just as much as Carrie Bradshaw would. – Andrew Lovesey
Concept: John Beckmann
Image: Jessica Marvin
Photography: Jeffrey Hornstein
©2012 Axis Mundi Design LLC