31. En Plein Air at the High Line
“En plein air” refers to the 19th century practice of painting outdoors, something inspired by, and a reaction to, the extreme changes happening in urban areas during the Industrial Revolution. The High Line, being a remnant of New York City’s industrial era, is the perfect place to reexamine and re-explore the tradition of outdoor painting, and with the involvement of several international artists, En Plein Air is an annual installation that challenges conventional sculptures and murals with freestanding, outdoor paintings that explore and restructure the relationship between art, nature and the modern urban city.
The first work above at 20th Street is by Firelei Báez, she depicts a Haitian Sans-Souci Palace ruin that looks like it is collapsing into the High Line. As High Line Arts describes, “In this ongoing body of work, Báez examines incarnations of Sanssouci: the 18th century Rococo palace built by Frederick the Great, the palace of Haitian Revolution leader and proclaimed first King of Haiti Henri Christophe, and Haitian revolution leader Jean-Baptiste Sans Souci, who was assassinated by Henri Christophe.” The second work, a series of four resign paintings, above is by Ryan Sullivan, embedded into the rail lines and plantings at 29th Street.
At 26th Street. Japanese artist Ei Arakawa has created two LED light paintings of fish, an interpretation of French painter Gustave Courbet’s 1872 and 1873 paintings, both titled La truite (The Trout). Other works include hundreds of striped flags at the Western Rail Yards by French artist Daniel Buren (known for his columns at the Palais Royal in Paris), ceramic archways by American artist Sam Falls embedded with fossilized plants from the High Line, life-size portraits on reclaimed doors from Georgian townhouses by Tanzanian artist Lubaina Himid, a large-scale sculpture at The Spur by Lara Schnitger, and a series of unstretched canvases inspired by an artist Vivian Suter Argentian home greet visitors at the southern edge of the park.
En Plein Air will be on display at several locations on the High Line from April 19, 2019 to March 30, 2020.