Celestial Alicja Kwade Spheres on the Roof of the Met
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What’s the Roof Commission at the Met Museum like this year? Celestial spheres form a miniature solar system in ParaPivot by Alicja Kwade, the 2019 Met Museum Roof Garden Commission. Here’s our photo journal to this marvelous site-specific installation at the Roof Garden at the Met.
the 2019 Roof Commission at the Met Museum by Alicja Kwade
Heading to the roof of the Met is an annual pilgrimage that lots of New Yorkers and regular visitors make each spring, summer or early fall. While the weather is warm, it’s one of the best places in the city, if you ask us.
The roof garden provides spectacular views of the Upper West Side and Midtown Manhattan. There’s a lovely cafe serving lunch, cocktails and dinner. And each year there is a site-specific commission.
Through the years, they’ve varied widely. From a haunted Victorian house to an invading alien, sometimes the mood is sinister, and sometimes filled with whimsy. It’s always provocative, and we are never sorry that we’ve visited.
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So what’s on the roof this year? A wonderful, whimsical solar system. And we love it.
who is Alicja Kwade?
Alicja Kwade is an artist based in Berlin who is known for her ability to infuse formal rigorous structures with whimsy and poetry. The Met’s notes say that she “creates sculptures and installations that reflect on time, perception, and scientific inquiry.”
This is Kwade’s first solo exhibition at a museum in the United States.
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ParaPivot by Alicja Kwade
With ParaPivot, Kwade has created two sculptures using steel and stone to evoke a miniature solar system that has temporarily alighted on the roof of the museum.
The landscape view is striking. The steel frame is in perfect harmony with all of the “needle” buildings that are cropping up all across the Midtown Manhattan skyline.
The frame also echos and amplifies the shape of the museum itself when viewed from the opposite side.
We may never see the views from this roof in quite the same way ever again, having seen them framed in such beautiful and novel ways with this installation.
We also love how the structure of the work frames the human vignettes that are taking place all across the museum’s roof. It brings a number of things into sharp focus.
Light and Shadow
The play of light and shadow is another wonderful element of ParaPivot.
Getting Up Close
While the macro overview is spectacular, perhaps even more fun and more thought-provoking is getting up close with each planet. That’s when you start to hear the music of the spheres.
The striations in the marble are beautiful and complex.
The very hue of each planet changes as the light shifts, exposing veins of color and depth that weren’t visible before.
The juxtaposition of the planets is also striking.
Some are grounded and easy to see and touch. Others are well out of our reach, and become objects that we can only imagine and dream about, since its impossible to get close to them.
Which made us think about the very nature of connection and desire – and how we often want that thing that is above our heads and tantalizingly far away, even though there’s something marvelous right within our reach.
Some of the best learning about a museum exhibit can come from your fellow observers. There were lots of people on the roof the day we went – it was a splendid autumn day, so everyone was inclined to linger.
We decided to stay and have lunch al fresco, so we grabbed a sandwich from the rooftop cafe and settled into one of the wooden chairs that line one wall of the rooftop.
Two elderly women were deep in conversation beside us, chatting about a friend in Istanbul. These two were clearly friends of long-standing, and they were fretting over a third friend, who had taken in an injured kitten she found on the street, paid a great deal of her own money to a veterinarian to help it heal, and was now unsure about what to do with the kitten, since she already had two cats and a dog of her own.
They were praising her generosity and expressing some concern that she was likely to adopt this kitten, as it had nowhere to go, even though her household was already full.
That got us to thinking about Istanbul and all of the cats you see on the streets there (almost all of which are well-groomed and fed, even though they seem to live outside full-time). Then we thought about the Kurds, and war, and refugees. And about what our responsibility is to those who have been injured and left on their own. What we should do when our households are full, but someone needs shelter. And what it means to be connected to other people, like the planets in this sculpture are connected to each other.
How long will the Alicja Kwade Commission remain on the Met Roof?
The installation will be in place only until October 27, 2019. If you want to be a part of the celestial magic, you’ll have to hurry. It will make you think – and you cannot ask more from art than that.
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.