The scale and assortment of architecture and entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip make it one of the most famous streets in the world. But there’s a cultural cache on Las Vegas Boulevard that’s more authentic than its replica world landmarks and more varied than its buffets: its world-class public art collections. The best part? You don’t have to leave your hotel to find a Koons, Warhol or Stella. To see the latest artistic additions to the Strip, here’s where art lovers should check in now:
When it comes to fine art, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotels Wynn Las Vegas and Encore at Wynn Las Vegas have a leg up on other resorts: Owner Steve Wynn’s personal art collection, which includes works by Monet, Picasso and Rembrandt, often seeps into his hotels. As a result, his Las Vegas resorts are virtual mazes of museum-worthy art. The pièce de résistance is Tulips, a $33.7 million Jeff Koons sculpture placed in the Wynn Theater rotunda in January to await a permanent home in the new Wynn resort on Macau’s Cotai Strip. See the gleaming, mood-lifting Tulips on the Vegas Strip while you can — it should be there through 2015. Other highlights of this eclectic collection include a Gustave Eiffel chandelier and a number of sculptures and paintings by Fernando Botero in the eponymous Botero restaurant, a chic steakhouse inspired by the Colombian artist. Order dessert: The ice-cream lollipops are served in a voluptuous vessel reminiscent of the artist’s famously rotund female subjects.
Photography buffs should make a beeline to The Venetian to view the all-star images collected in “50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic.” Housed in Imagine Exhibitions Gallery at The Venetian (a 6,800-square-foot space that last hosted “Da Vinci – The Genius”), the traveling exhibit features such iconic images as Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl and a Nick Nichols photograph of Jane Goodall in the Congo. You’ll learn the behind-the-scenes stories of each photo and, for some images, see the sequence of shots the photographer took just before and after the winning one. “50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic” was originally scheduled to leave the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel in June but has just been extended until January 2014.
Since opening its doors in 2010, The Cosmopolitan has made displaying contemporary art a priority — one of the Four-Star hotel’s first commissions was a Yoko Ono film for its digital marquee. Depending on how you enter the hotel, you might spy work from famed graphic designer Shepard Fairey in the parking garage or a giant candy-red high-heel sculpture by Roark Gourley near the casino’s Strip entrance. But the most interactive exhibits at The Cosmopolitan come courtesy of its artist-in-residency program at P3Studio, in partnership with the Art Production Fund. During this summer’s first residency, from June 19 to July 14, artists Su Limbert and Sierra Slentz will present a large-scale forest diorama (complete with a five-foot bear) in which visitors can sculpt their own tiny homes to create a village. From July 17 to August 18, Abby Robinson will act as a photo doctor; guests will be called into her office to discuss which body part they choose to be photographed at close range. The resulting photo will be made into a badge for the “patient” to wear. And from August 21 to September 15, David Sanchez Burr will convert the studio into an interactive sculptural installation in which guests can trigger sensors and move parts of the work in a collaborative effort. Artists-in-residence are present Wednesdays through Sundays from 6 to 11 p.m.
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art at the Four-Star Bellagio hotel opened “Warhol Out West,” a collection of Western-inspired Andy Warhol works — from his “Cowboy and Indians” series to Pop portraits of Hollywood celebrities — in February. Originally set to close in October, the exhibit has been extended to January 2, 2014, giving you more time to see the 56 works on loan from the excellent Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. In July, look for the arrival of more 1980s advertisements by Warhol, including “Mobil,” “Lifesavers” and “Blackglama (Judy Garland).” One of the best ways to see them is during Bellagio’s monthly Art & Wine event. On the second Wednesday of each month (except November), Bellagio director of wine Jason Smith and gallery director Tarissa Tiberti lead an exploration of Warhol’s art paired with varietals from Bellagio’s wine cellar.
Home to Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas and Four-Stars ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa, the glossy CityCenter complex is also home to a massive public art collection. The newest installation, from perception-bending Los Angeles artist James Turrell, just opened at the CityCenter monorail station; look for light and color to transform the space as trains arrive and depart. This Turrell project closely follows the debut of his by-appointment-only installation atop the Louis Vuitton store at CityCenter’s The Shops at Crystals. Call the store at 702-730-3150 to schedule an intimate, immersive experience in Turrell’s Akhob ganzfeld effect — a horizon-less tableau meant to deprive visitors of perception. (The store advises calling one week in advance.) Three other CityCenter pieces to seek out: Maya Lin’s striking Silver River sculpture that pays homage to the Colorado River at ARIA’s reception desk; Frank Stella’s geometric Damascus Gate Variation I at Vdara’s reception area; and Nancy Rubins’ outdoor Big Edge, a massive cluster of boats suspended in midair. All of CityCenter acts as a free museum, but for some concentrated culture, head to the GALLERY at The Shops at Crystals for a trove of Dale Chihuly glass art, drawings and prints.
Photos Courtesy of Cashman Photo, Wynn Las Vegas, The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, MGM Resorts International, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and CityCenter