French artist Elizabeth Stenne has been producing artworks for famous hotels for more than 30 years — and she still thrives taking on diverse commissions with tight deadlines.
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Elizabeth Stenne’s career painting bespoke pieces of art for some of the world’s most luxurious hotels spans more than three decades.
The French artist’s rustic studio is a world apart from the opulent hotel lobbies and penthouses her artwork graces. But from her farmhouse in Cheille la Chapelle in central France she has carved out a reputation producing on-demand paintings for the likes of the George V hotel in Paris, the Hermitage in Monte-Carlo, the Sofitel New York, London’s Savoy — and more recently the Joel Robuchon restaurant in Hong Kong.
It’s an unusual profession that she juggles on top of her own painting, which recently included an exhibition, “Vibrations,” at Galerie Durst in Paris. The way it works is that a hotel interior designer sends a commission, including any subject or color specifications, and sometimes samples of furnishings that will be used in the property.
And Stenne, who mostly uses acrylic, says she needs to be versatile as she navigates the fine line between art and decoration.
“It can be any style,” she said. “One commission in the UK involved children in a rose garden. Another was colonial South Africa.”
One Moroccan hotelier previously asked for dozens of paintings of traditional riads to decorate their property.
Yet for the most part it’s abstract art, and often large paintings designed to make a splash in large public spaces.
Fortunately Stenne enjoys the variation of her commissions, which keeps things interesting.
“For hotels it’s rarely small paintings, although for Joel Rubuchon they wanted lots of paintings of vegetables for the restaurant,” she said. “It’s always good to impose something on someone. You learn something every time.”
However, sometimes there can be pressure to deliver on time. “It’s usually two or three months, sometimes it’s been one week,” Stenne said. “It depends on the size of the painting.”
Her entry into the world of hospitality began in the late 1980s, when a painting she sold to an architect friend caught the attention of gallerist Francoise Durst, who at the time provided artworks to interior designers. The commissions began from there.
Unlike exhibitions, Stenne said she paints without knowing exactly where the painting is going to hang, and doesn’t attend hotel openings to see her masterpieces in their final home.
“I work in the shadows,” she said.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Stenne in her studio in central France. Source: Skift/Matt Parsons. Matthew Parsons / Skift