The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden opened to the public in 1987, offering stunning views of the New York skyline—and a unique gallery space. The Met’s tradition of annual site-specific commissions began in 2013, and they have since been designated a “much anticipated rite of spring,” by The New York Times.
We Come in Peace (above), by Pakistani-born artist Huma Bhabha, is this year’s Roof Garden Commission, exploring themes of colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place. It is on display April 17 to October 28, 2018, weather permitting.
In anticipation of the 2018 Roof Garden Commission opening tomorrow, April 17, we’re looking back on a few of our favorite Rooftop exhibitions.
And How Many Rains Must Fall before the Stairs are Washed Clean, Imran Qureshi, 2013
The first in a series of site-specific commissions for the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Imran Qureshi’s 2013 installation featured ornamental leaves elaborately painted directly on the floor of the roof surface. Adorned in red acrylic paint, the roof, at first glance, appeared as if it were covered in blood. Qureshi said, “The flowers that seem to emerge from the red paint in my work represent the hope that—despite everything—the people sustain somehow, their hope for a better future.”
Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout, Dan Graham, 2014
Dan Graham’s installation was comprised of curving steel and two-way mirrored glass between ivy hedgerows, which were designed by landscape architect Günther Vogt. Visitors to the installation were greeted with a “picturesque landscape that is at once unexpected and familiar,” said former Met Director Thomas P. Campbell.
Pierre Huyghe, 2015
Pierre Huyghe’s site-specific commission explored the transformation of cultural and biological systems through a dynamic gathering of components derived from the Museum’s collection, architecture, and surroundings. Featuring a large tank and uprooted floor tiles, the untitled work instigated a dialogue between the surrounding city and the installation’s natural and artificial elements.
Transitional Object (PyschoBarn), Cornelia Parker, 2016
Cornelia Parker’s Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) was inspired by paintings by Edward Hopper and two emblems of American architecture—the classic red barn and the Bates family’s sinister mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho. The Victorian house contrasted with the surrounding Manhattan skyline, and upon closer inspection was revealed to be an elaborate set. As Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum’s Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, said, “Neither entirely real nor completely false, it vacillates unnervingly between its identities.”
The Theater of Disappearance, Adrián Villar Rojas, 2017
The Theater of Disappearance transformed the Roof Garden into a space questioning the presentation of cultural history itself. Incorporating the three-dimensional replication of nearly 100 objects from The Met collection, the installation featured human scans as well. The blending of historical objects and the human body “holds a mirror up to what we do at the Museum, questioning how we elect to present cultural history over time,” said Wagstaff.
These exhibitions can be explored through their accompanying publications, available at store.metmuseum.org.