While looking into the history of Barneys for my article in Sunday’s magazine, I came across the amazing windows that the artist Lynn Hershman Leeson did for Bonwit Teller in the fall of 1976. Bonwit’s was located on Fifth Avenue at 56th Street, where Trump Tower is today. After two years of negotiation with store management, Hershman Leeson brought her art and social commentary to 25 windows. “I wanted to put art in the context of everyday life,” Hershman Leeson, whose work includes photography, video, film and installations, said this week. She had already done a project in a prison. “I thought, Well, if I’m going to do something in New York City, I should do stores.”
One of her windows depicts a crime-of-passion scene (a male mannequin aiming a pistol), another shows a woman in bed in a cheap hotel. The project, done with the help of the Clocktower Gallery, was strictly an art installation, and though there were a few garments in the windows, none were for sale. Of course, Bonwit Teller benefited from the attention the windows received.