In the News: Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Katharina Grosse Begin psychylustro Installation

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Installation view of Katharina Grosse: One Floor Up More Highly at MASS MoCA, December 2010 to January 2012. Photo by Arthur Evans, courtesy of MASS MoCA.

Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is in the news, as the installation process begins for psychylustro, the organization's ambitious Center-funded public art project with Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse.

Grosse is known for her use of bright color and spray-paint guns to create massive artworks that spark the imagination. As of April 29, she has begun working with a team of installation artists to paint seven predetermined sites along a five-mile stretch between 30th Street and North Philadelphia stations, creating temporary, outdoor paintings, meant to be viewed from a moving train. As a result, passengers on Amtrak between Philadelphia and New York, SEPTA's Chestnut Hill West and Trenton lines, and NJ Transit's Atlantic City Line, which combined carry 34,000 passengers daily, will have the opportunity to see the work go up in real time and then slowly fade, as the environment reclaims the landscape.

"[Curator Elizabeth] Thomas and others in the Mural Arts Program have for a while been following Grosse's contemporary artwork, and concluded her style fit with what they envisioned for the project," writes Julie Xie in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Asked why they chose Grosse rather than a local artist, Thomas said, 'We have seen Katharina's work around the world. When one is making a choice about artists, it's not about fame, per se, but about who is really leading a conversation. This isn't just a project for Philly; it's a project for the world.'" Read more >

At Hidden City Philadelphia, Grosse says, "My work is actually about things clashing, images colliding that come from contradicting realms. I was kind of intrigued that Mural Arts, with a tradition of strictly wall painting that is mostly figurative or narrative, would invite an artist coming from a totally different field. I saw the chance to go for something I have had in mind for a while, which was painting very freely on whatever surface, with enormous scale shifts. [...] It is like uninhibited thinking in public space." Read more >

Peter Crimmins writes at NewsWorks: "The way Grosse applies paint—with a spray gun that pays no attention to where the land ends and the building begins—introduces fluidity to a landscape that has been moribund for decades. 'It's about the contrast—the paradox of things that don't normally exist together,' said Grosse. 'It's mostly about an astonishing encounter with a painting and its surface.'" Read more >

Installation for psychylustro will continue through mid-May, at which time, a public opening will take place. Grosse will engage in a public talk with Philadelphia Museum of Art curator Carlos Basualdo on Sunday, May 18.