The New York Times, March 24, 2006
By Carol Vogel
Up on the Roof, And Above
[image] A rendering of ''Clear Sky Black Cloud,'' one of four works by
Cai Guo-Qiang for his exhibition on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum
Cai Guo-Qiang, the Chinese-born artist who created a pyrotechnic display
in the sky above Central Park and beamed a rainbow over the East River,
is about to create a site-specific exhibition for the roof of the
Metropolitan Museum. It will be the Met's first solo show of a
contemporary Chinese artist.
Word of ''Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument'' comes as
Asia Week is about to open, and the world's leading Asian art collectors
descend on New York for auctions, art fairs and gallery exhibitions.
Mr. Cai's installation, on view from April 25 through Oct. 29, was
inspired both by the panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline from the
Met's roof and by events following Sept. 11 -- from war and SARS to a
tsunami and cloning -- a period when, as Mr. Cai said in a recent
telephone interview, ''you have no idea what you will encounter.''
Few visitors would imagine seeing an actual black cloud appearing above
the roof garden every day around noon, but ''Clear Sky Black Cloud,''
one of the four works Mr. Cai has created for the space, is just that.
Miniature black smoke shells will burst into the sky like an inkblot
every afternoon and slowly dissipate.
There will also be a 15-foot-tall glass wall called ''Transparent
Monument,'' with replicas of dead birds at its base. ''It frames the
vistas, the landscape and skyscrapers into one,'' Mr. Cai said. He was
careful to add that he did not want to offend bird lovers: his dead
birds are handmade and fashioned from fiberglass with lifelike plastic
claws. ''I wanted to make it seem as though they unsuccessfully tried to
fly through the glass wall,'' he explained.
Conversely, there will be another work called ''Nontransparent
Monument.'' This series of stone reliefs with vignettes carved into them
will depict life after Sept. 11, both humorous events and the tragic. On
the southern end of the roof will be ''Moving Along, Nothing to See
Here,'' in which a pair of life-size cast-resin crocodiles, their mouths
open, are pierced with thousands of sharp objects (like scissors and
knives) that have been confiscated at airport security checkpoints.
Gary Tinterow, the Met's curator of 19th-century, modern and
contemporary art, said the selection of Mr. Cai reflects the museum's
effort to broaden the scope of the contemporary art and artists it
shows. Among those who have done previous roof projects are Sol LeWitt,
Ellsworth Kelly and the team of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.
''We're very much trying to bring down the median age,'' Mr. Tinterow
said of his plans for contemporary artists and younger visitors.
A Model Apartment
A corner of a building that looks as if it has either magically sprouted
from the ground or curiously landed from the sky will soon occupy part
of the Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Fifth Avenue and 60th Street.
The power of ambiguity is part of the mystery that Sarah Sze, its
37-year-old sculptor, is hoping to convey. ''It's modeled after a white
brick apartment building across the street,'' said Rochelle Steiner,
director of the Public Art Fund, the nonprofit organization that
sponsors art around the city. ''Sarah has copied the details of the top
of the building'' at 785 Fifth Avenue.
As with a terrarium or a doll's house, viewers will be able to peek
inside the building at a domestic scene below street level. The clever
use of mirrors and an assortment of everyday objects -- a tree, socks,
an alarm clock, water bottles, a smoke detector, storage boxes, grass,
bath towels, lumber, an oriental rug, notebook paper, vitamins, a
reading lamp, a scale, a wrench, an orchid -- help Ms. Sze to create a
sort of archeological site that pays homage to the unseen domestic life
of the city.
Such miniature environments have become a kind of trademark for Ms. Sze
in exhibitions from Venice and Paris to Minneapolis and San Francisco.
''Corner Plot,'' as this one is called, is the fund's first project
overseen by Ms. Steiner since she became director in February. But
discussions with Ms. Sze about this commission began about five years
ago, when the fund approached her to do something for ''In the Public
Realm,'' its 11-year-old initiative promoting emerging artists. That
project never materialized, and now Ms. Sze is no longer an emerging
''Corner Plot'' will be on view from May 2 through Oct. 29.
In an effort to fill an empty niche among museums and universities, the
Frick Collection is establishing a Center for the History of Collecting
in America. With a $25,000 planning grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas
Foundation, in Manhattan, it will add a center to the Frick Art
Reference Library that focuses on American collectors and collections.
''We plan to put together and eventually publish a guide to archival
resources of collecting in America,'' said Anne Poulet, the Frick's
director. ''It is a tool that does not exist.''
Ms. Poulet said that the idea originally came from Jonathan Brown, a
professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, who noted the growing interest
in the subject. Eventually, the Frick hopes to create a place where
scholars, students, historians and the public will be able to obtain
biographies of collectors, histories of museums and information about
objects in American collections.
It also plans to work with places like the Institute of Fine Arts and
Columbia University, not only on a database but also on lectures and
''Its time has come,'' Ms. Poulet said. ''We already have a lot of the
material and we want to give it more of a focus in the hopes that it
will stimulate educational programming and activities.''
with kind regards,
Matthias Arnold (Art-Eastasia list)
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