Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Chen Man’s Interactive and Eloquent Art Works Honor Breast Cancer Awareness at the Peninsula New York


The beautiful Peninsula Hotel is an architectural gem on Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, built in the neoclassical style in 1905, and remains one of the most opulent places to rest your head or have afternoon tea (or cocktail) in New York. The hotel’s Chinese and Art Deco inspired interior is also a tranquil place to enjoy the latest in contemporary art. Aside from a rotating collection of art hanging throughout the hotel’s common spaces, every October, the Peninsula partners with leading artists to support Breast Cancer Awareness month in their ten locations (with London and Yangon in the works) around the world for The Art of Pink. This year is quite a unique partnership, as the Peninsula has chosen just one artist’s work to represent the compelling and important cause- Chinese creative powerhouse, Chen Man.


Staged at the top of the grand stairs in the lobby, guests are greeted with a large photograph by Man, emblazoned with two large pink dots. Unlike the other works hanging at the Peninsula, guests are invited to touch and even scrape the piece, with Nao Nao (backscratcher) sticks available at the front desk for $5 – which directly benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Man chose ten of her most iconic images, (which appear as beautiful fashion photographs at first, but are steeped with political commentary and strong female figures) and then obscured their surfaces with the pink dots. The piece at the New York Peninsula shows a girl, played by the ex-President’s granddaughter, riding a bike through Tienanmen Square, which is now forbidden in the heavily patrolled popular tourist site.


On horizontal images, the dots obviously represent breasts, but in the vertical pieces they take on a punctuation colon, challenging guests to open a dialogue about breast cancer, which can be an uncomfortable subject even here in the United States. The Nao Nao backscratchers were chosen as a symbol of intimacy, used in Chinese families to lovingly scratch each others’ backs. Throughout the month, visitors can scratch away the pink circles as little or as much as they wish. At the end of the month, each of the ten pieces will be auctioned off on Paddle 8, and Man will donate all of the proceeds to breast cancer research.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

Chen Man is known across the world for a multitude of creative talents. A celebrity in her own right in China, the fashion and art world know her for her cutting edge narrative fashion photography (her covers for i-D exploring the diverse beauty of Chinese minority women are amazing), graphic design, creative direction, digital art, traditional Chinese painting, and an overall oeuvre that meshes modern aesthetics with Chinese traditions. Coincidentally, the accomplished artist is also a huge fan and regular customer of The Peninsula (which originated in Hong Kong), seemingly a perfect partnership. Stop in the lobby and experience Nao Nao for yourself through October.

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