When Anne Pasternak became the director of the Brooklyn Museum in 2015, she moved into an office painted “squirrel gray,” the favorite color of her predecessor, Arnold Lehman. It quickly went through a complete transformation with the help of trustee Stephanie Ingrassia, who underwrote a redo that involved interior designer Ellen Hamilton, Jon Sherman of Flavor Paper, a graffiti artist, and a team of curators. One of the first things she did was paint the walls her favorite color: “I call it ‘Bic-pen blue,’ ” she says. The opposite wall of Pasternak’s office is covered in Flavor Paper’s “Brooklyn Bridge Wall” wallpaper, printed from a photograph taken by Sherman. FADE, the artist who tagged a portion of the wall in Sherman’s photograph was invited to the museum to tag Pasternak’s wall. “One day he shows up in a clown outfit,” Pasternak says, “complete clown outfit, doesn’t say a word, has a bucket with spray paint in it, puts down a tarp, paints for twenty minutes and leaves, never said a word.” Graffiti art aside, Pasternak also could choose pretty much whatever she wanted (only items in storage) from the museum’s vast collection.
1. Walter Andersons, Photostats: Félix González-Torres (2003). He’s the museum’s collections manager.
2. Kiki Smith, Annunciation (2008).
3. Gene Davis, Cape Town (1980).
4. Fairfield Porter, Interior in Sunlight (1965). “There are certain pieces I like to have around me all the time,” Pasternak says.
5. Kara Walker, limited-edition pitcher.
6. Will Mentor, Part of the Story “Between the One and Three” (1985).
7. Jean-Paul Riopelle, Denier Logis (1957).
8. Edgar Degas, Portrait of a Man (1866). “My office rotates a lot because we lend our collection to museums all over the world, so the Degas in there today is likely to go out three months from now.”
*A version of this article appears in the April 15, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!