Leave it to a British artist, the ebullient Cornelia Parker, to create and install on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof an American icon that celebrates and comments on a unique emblem of our architecture, art and culture.
Cornelia Parker, artist
There are layers of references in Parker’s visual conceit – America’s red barn, Edward Hopper’s paintings of barns and Victorian mansions with mansard roofs, as well as American gothic via Hitchcock in Psycho. Add to that the museum roof with its spectacular New York skyline, “a gift to any artist,” said Parker at Monday’s press preview, and, voilà, we have many of the elements that inspired her.
Back of Barn
However, the title of Parker’s piece, “Transitional Object,” deepens her intent. It’s a psychoanalytic term for toys, such as teddy bears, that help children, as she put it, “wean off their mother, though some get stuck in that phase.” One might almost call it an aesthetic fetish. However you interpret this piece, it sticks in one’s eye and mind, and plays off the steel and concrete skyline in a vibrant way.
Looking up at Barn from Central Park
The house, built with materials from three different barns, is moored in the back by black water tanks, furthering the impression of something evil behind its sunny façade. And it can be viewed, a la Hitchcock’s house on a hill, from behind the museum in Central Park, looming and hovering all at once.
Central Park in Bloom
As a site-specific installation, it’s one of the Met’s best – a unique piece of sculpture that is eerie, fun and a remarkably clever homage to PsychoAmerica. With Central Park in bloom, now is a great time to see it, near and far.
Met Roof: Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) by Cornelia Parker
April 19 through October 31, 2016
Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag