Up on the Met’s Roof: Icon of American Culture By British Artist

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.

Barn2Cornelia Parker, artist

Barn3Barn Side

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.

Barn4Back 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.

Barn5Looking 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.

Barn6Central 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

About Eleanor Foa Dienstag (31 Articles)
Eleanor Foa Dienstag is a veteran author, journalist, photo-journalist and award-winning corporate writer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, the New Republic, the New York Observer, Ms., Travel & Leisure, and many other websites and publications. Eleanor is the author of three books. Her most recent, available on Amazon and Centro Primo Levi is MIXED MESSAGES: Reflections on an Italian Jewish Family and Exile. It is a multi-layered memoir about Eleanor’s personal journey, her father’s exile from Fascist Italy and the Foa Family journey, whose Italian-Jewish roots go back to the 1500s in northern Italy where her ancestors were famous printers. WHITHER THOU GOEST: The Story of an Uprooted Wife, also a memoir, was acclaimed by Business Week for its insights into corporate life. Her third book, In Good Company: 125 Years At The Heinz Table, offered a unique view of a quintessential American company. Eleanor served as staff speechwriter to the Chairman and CEO of American Express. In 1983, she founded Eleanor Foa Associates (www.eleanorfoa.com). It provides a wide variety of corporate writing and marketing services. Eleanor is past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), received speechwriting awards from IABC, and was awarded literary residencies at Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). She resides in Manhattan.