Public Art in NYC Featuring Type on the Streets: Barbara Kruger at the downtown Whitney site and Twist and Amaze on Houston
One of the most exciting long-term New York City projects is the construction of the new, Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum downtown, which will stand at the southern terminus of the great High Line Park, on the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets. But just because the new Whitney Museum building won't be completed until, they're hoping, 2012, doesn't mean that there isn't any art going on there. In fact, the totally unbuilt downtown Whitney has already had three public art exhibitions on the site, by Tauba Auerbach, by Guyton/Walker, and, going on right now, by the always entertaining Barbara Kruger.
Barbara Kruger's public art project consists of huge blocks of type, printed on vinyl, and affixed to just about every surface: the trailer roofs, the temporary fences, the soon-to-be-knocked-down walls, the parking lots. Kruger's phrasing here is pretty site-appropriate, a fact immediately apparent to anyone who has witnessed the enormous changes in the Meatpacking District over the last decade or two. "Plenty is enough." "Art is as heavy as sorrow, as light as a breeze…" And, our favorite, the hopeful: "You are not what you seem. You are more complicated, more serious, kinder, calmer, and a true friend." It's all best seen from the High Line, which is as good an excuse as any to stroll through and relax in that excellent park for the nth time. Barbara Kruger: Whitney on Site will be on display until October 17. And you can find lots more information about the new Whitney Museum downtown here.
The second great (better?) type-based public art project downtown is by the excellent Twist (aka Barry McGee) and Amaze (John Lazcano), a hundred or so simple spray tags completely covering the now-famous wall on East Houston, where Keith Haring, Os Gemeos and, most recently, Shepard Fairey all made their mark. The Twist and Amaze piece is a glorious celebration of graffiti writers past and present, alive with energy, the dynamic repetition and sheer redness of the thing nearly exploding off the wall, the whole piece bright and swooping and almost abstract expressionistic when seen from a distance. It's unclear how long the commissioned public art piece will be up, so head over to East Houston and Bowery soon for photo-ops galore.