Earlier this year, Martha and I enjoyed dinner together at Le Bernadin. As impeccable as our meal and the service was (and always is under Chef Ripert's careful watch), I was most impressed that evening with a single element of the restaurant's decor.
Coming in at 6 feet tall and a sweeping 24 feet wide, Ran Ortner's Deep Water No. 1 (pictured above) is hard to miss if you dine at Le Bernadin. A tryptic painted in oil on 3 large canvases, the oceanscape is most stunning for its incredible photo-realism, rather than just its size. Ortner is known for these awesome portraits of the sea, which capture its constant motion—a wave-break, a swell, the churn and whirl that suggest deep, mysterious happenings—with dramatic exactness.
Lucky for me, Ortner happens to be a friend of my colleague Ayesha Patel, our ingenious Style Director at Martha Stewart Living. On a crisp Monday morning after my dinner, Ayesha and I ventured to DUMBO for a visit with Ortner at his studio there. It is one thing to see these massive works on the wall, but it is even more flooring to see such an epic painting in progress; I am taken with his work.
From what I hear, commissions (and visits from his swelling fan-base) have been flowing in rapidly to Ortner since the installation at Le Bernadin. A documentary is being made about his work, and one of his paintings was even chosen to be the visual centerpiece at the World Forum in the Hague for the United Nations World Water Day in March. Ran is astonishingly kind in addition to being so obviously gifted; I can only imagine what great successes await him in the coming years.
Admittedly, I cannot stop envisioning one of Ornter's works on the wall in my apartment, as if the greens and purples and greys of the Hudson had come ashore right in my living room. What artwork are you coveting right now?