This week, we take a look at the art collection on the cruise ship Celebrity Reflection.
Celebrity Cruises has been collecting art and displaying art on its ships since its founding. Credit for beginning the Celebrity Art Collection in the 1990s is usually give to Christina Chandris, wife of John Chrandis then the owner of Celebrity Cruises.
The line has since been purchased by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. but the tradition of having an art collection aboard the ships continues. Responsibility for assembling the art collection on Celebrity Reflection, which entered service in 2012, was given to a firm called International Corporate Art.
As when Ms. Chandris began the collection, the works on Celebrity Reflection are contemporary. They are primarily conceptual with much use of photographic images and non-traditional materials. There is almost no use of traditional techniques such as drawing or painting.
The collection is prominently displayed. Indeed, there are several large installations that occupy considerable space. The works on the forward and aft stair towers are beautifully lit and dominate the landings. Clearly, the art collection was not an after thought.
Since the name of the ship is Reflection, the theme of the collection is “the seductiveness of reflection.” The term “reflection” is meant both in the literal sense of surfaces that reflect light and in the metaphysical sense of thinking (reflecting) on a topic. If you look for this theme in the works, you can find it but it is not really vital to appreciating these works.
Next to each work is a plaque discussing the work. These tend to be somewhat enthusiastic, using strings of adjectives and phrases which meld together to become rather meaningless. They obscure rather than clarify but that is often the case with the art establishment. Good art does not require verbose explanations.
Each of Celebrity's Solstice class ships has a living tree suspended in the central atrium. On Reflection, this centerpiece was designed by Bert Rodriguez. The tree grows upward out of a shiny metallic basin. On the bottom of the basin is an aluminum tree pointing downwards. In other words, the aluminum tree is like a reelection of the living tree. However, unlike the living tree, the man-made tree is without leaves, only colorless electric lights adorn its branches.
Another major installation is located by the specialty restaurants. On either side of the corridor are large photographic images from a forest. However, each of the trees has been perforated with reflective materials in each of the holes. Thus, you can glimpse your image moving through the forest as you pass by. It is visually impressive. The artist was Albano Afonso.
Not far away is another installation, the Celestial Garden by Carlos Betancourt in collaboration with Alberto Latorre.. Colorful flowers contrast cover the walls, ceiling and floor, set against dark, nearly black backgrounds. Quite pretty. A shiny, abstract-shaped bench provides the reflective element.
Of the works in the stairtowers, I found the photographic images by Miranda Lictenstein the most appealing. She manipulates the images so that they become essentially unrecognizable forming abstract designs. Her choice of pastel, natural colors in these images, however, makes them attractive.
I was also impressed by the life-size silhouette at the top of this same tower, a photographic image by Yuki Onodera. The sparkling lights on the woman's dress are actually fragments of other photographic images.
I did not find everything in the Celebrity Reflection collection appealing. However, I did find the collection thought provoking. I could not dismiss any of the works out of hand. Rather, I had to think about why I did not like a particular work. Causing viewers to think is a hallmark of a good collection.
Above left: "Untitled #2", "Untitled #4" and Untitled #7" by Miranda Lichtenstein in the aft stair tower.
Above right: An installation by Albano Afonso.
Rich Wagner is a writer, photographer and artist.