Decoder Ring

Decoder Ring: Hotel Art

Hotel art has vastly improved—but can it ever be good?

Dr Hotel

Benjamin Frisch

Listen to Decoder Ring via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month, host Willa Paskin, Slate’s TV critic, takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try to figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.

This month: What has happened to hotel art? When you think of hotel art, you probably think of kitsch, mass-produced oil paintings, Bob Ross landscapes, maybe even some works on velvet. But this is an outmoded idea, with hotels now boasting of their impressive art programs full of original works, sometimes by blue-chip contemporary artists. Decoder Ring talks to historians, artists, scholars, and hotel-art specialists to understand how this transformation happened. It explores the history of hotel art, explains how it went from kitsch to classy, and wonders whether the classy stuff is really an improvement.

Links and further reading on some of the things we discussed on the show:

Twitter: @willapaskin

Decoder Ring is produced and edited by Benjamin Frisch.