The Art of Queen Mary 2
When Queen Mary 2 (QM2) was being constructed, it was realized that having a significant art collection was imperative. The Cunard Line name evoked images of luxury and having good art on the line's flagship was necessary to retain that image. More importanly, it was clear that QM2 would be a historic ship - - not only would she be the first ocean liner built in 40 years but she would be the longest and largest ocean liner ever built. QM2 needed an art collection commensurate with her historic role.
To assemble its initial collection Cunard selected Erik Hermida of Enterprises & Art. 128 artists were commissioned to create 565 original works of art for the ship. In 2016, the ship underwent an extensive refit during which additional works were added and some of the existing works changed.
The QM2 collection is quite extensive and varied. However, most of the works fall into one of the following categories.
Queen Mary 2 has some very large public spaces and such spaces demand large pieces of art. For example, the multi-deck high center section of the Britannia Restaurant has a 300 square foot Gobelin-style tapestry at the aft end. The work by Dutch artist Barbara Broekman depicts QM2 sailing from New York City. While maritime enthusiasts can quarrel that the ship does not look much like QM2, the work does capture the excitement and feel of departing on an ocean liner on a transatlantic crossing. As such, it successfully adds to the atmosphere of the room.
Running along the centerline of the ship on Decks 2 and 3 are two grand corridors. Lining the walls on Deck 3 and large panels of verre eglomise) (black painted glass and etched glass)by Christain Lee Studios. On Deck 2, there is another series of panels done like bronze reliefs presenting characteristic of some of the places QM2 visits. The image of Homer Simpson on the North American panel has been rubbed down by people touching it over the years.
Looking up at the forward end of the atrium above the Grand Lobby is another large relief. This one shows QM2 set against a rising sun and is by Scottish sculptor John McKenna.
QM2 has a large number of maritime paintings. These include several works by Captain Stephen Card that were commissioned for the QM2. In addition, in Stairway C are large gclee blow-ups of sections of some of Card's earlier paintings.
Over the years, QM2 has acquired or been given various additional maritime works often commemorating events in the ship's history such as her meetings with other Cunard ships and her 2016 time in drydock.
One of Cunard's goals in creating the interior of QM2 was to recall the “Golden Age” of ocean liner travel that took place in the 1920s and 1930s. The ships of that era were often decorated in the art deco style and thus the use of art deco on QM2 was an obvious choice. However, Cunard also wanted the ship to be contemporary and so the use of deco had to be tempered to make the works up-to-date. Cunard wanted to evoke rather than reproduce the past.
For example, on Stairway B are a number of paintings by New York-based artist Giancarlo Impiglia who combined elements of art deco, Cubism and his own style to create colorful images of sophisticated two-dimensional figures in luxurious settings.
In Illuminations, the ship's combination planetarium, lecture hall and cinema, are Art Deco inspired reliefs that give the room the feel of a 1930s movie palace. Outside Illuminations are near-lifesize statues of various Greek gods. Along the same lines, there are art deco-inspired contemporary statues by the Pavilion pool.
QM2 also has a large number of original contemporary works that have nothing to do with ships or transatlantic travel. These are quite diverse in style ranging from realism to almost abstract.
For example, displayed on some of the landings on Stairway B is a series of paintings by Michael Ryan that depict various forms of entertainment such as the Symphony and the Circus. These combine figures with an overall abstract style.
Further down that stairway are flat, two-dimensional depictions of clowns by French artist France Wagner and by Russian artist Igor Tcholaria, both of whom used bright primary colors..
Some of the most popular wall displays on Queen Mary 2 are panels telling the history of Cunard and transatlantic travel. The graphics on these panels have been arranged to make them visually interesting and attractive.
Along the same lines, on Deck 3 forward, there are large blow-ups of photographs of movie stars and other celebrities from the first half of the 20th century who traveled on Cunard.
Perhaps the most interesting of the Cunard panels is one of the head of the line's founder Sir Samuel Cunard. On close inspection, you can see that the portrait is made up of images of the various ships that have sailed with Cunard over the years.
Overall, the QM2 collection is extensive, varied and interesting. The works are presented tastefully and help to create the intended ambiance of transatlantic luxury.
For more about Queen Mary 2
Click here for our Queen Mary 2 profile page
Above: Barbara Broekman's tapestry is the centerpiece of QM2's Britannia Restaurant.
Above: John McKenna's relief in the Grand Lobby atrium.
Below: One of the panels along the Deck 2 grand corridor.
Above: Captain Stephen Card with one of his paintings on QM2.
Below: Some of the graphics panels that tell the history of Cunard.
Cruise ship art collection review - Cunard Line - - Queen Mary 2