The United Nations has unveiled a giant work of art that is to travel the world bringing a message of peace.
The so-called Uniting Painting hangs almost 23 meters from the ceiling of the lobby of U.N. headquarters in New York. The undulating ribbons of acrylic paint on canvas descend down a flight of stairs before turning into carpet that winds across the lobby and flows out the door.
The Uniting Painting is the work, and long time dream, of international political cartoonist Ranan Lurie.
U.N. Undersecretary General Shastri Tharoor says the painting is Mr. Lurie's attempt to use the common language of art to connect people across the globe. "His message, that what we have in common, what unites us, irrespective of our nationality, our language, our religion, is far greater than what separates us. That message is at least as important today as it was when the painting was first conceived," he said.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Mr. Lurie is the most syndicated political cartoonist in the world. Before he took a sabbatical to finish the painting almost two-years ago, his cartoons appeared in more than 11-hundred publications.
Mr. Lurie is funding the U.N. art installation at a cost of approximately half of one-million dollars.
Once it begins to travel, he says local organizations and governments will cover the costs of having local artists execute the concept. The undulating lines will remain constant, but the colors and shape will change from location to location. The Uniting Painting will be installed both inside and out. "I do not have one single country where it was offered that it has turned it down. Right now we have South Africa's Ministry of Culture. We have South Korea wanting to do it with the purpose of spreading the painting to North Korea. And that will be the tendency, to spread it around and in different phases, slowly but surely bringing a uniting painting that lives up to its title," Mr. Lurie said.
The painting is not a new idea. Mr. Lurie first started working on it in 1968. But even in its early stages, he envisioned a work of art that would travel the world and adapt to its changing environments. "I once looked at a painting and said, 'The poor guy is stuck on the wall. How sad. No horizons, cannot take any trips.' I thought, why should it not take a trip? Why should it not start moving? Why should it not start delivering its own motif left and right, north and south. And this is the way it started, and I was fascinated to see what kind of opportunities you have here to deliver a motif that can travel and make its own decisions," he said.
Ranan Lurie has a long association with the United Nations, which he calls a must for humanity. Consequently, he believes the United Nations is the best place for the Uniting Painting to begin - and end. "It can and should start at the United Nations and go around the world and come back to the United Nations, leaving its mark in every place, creating a common denominator among different people, different languages, different cultures, and serve as a uniting factor," he said.
Mr. Lurie views his painting's ability to adjust to changing environments as a symbol of humanity's adaptability.