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The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn)

The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn)

April 19–October 31, 2016 (weather permitting)

Press Preview: Monday, April 18, 10:00 a.m.–noon

A large-scale sculpture by acclaimed British artist Cornelia Parker, inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and by two emblems of American architecture—the classic red barn and the Bates family’s sinister mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho—will comprise the fourth annual installation of site-specific works commissioned for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Nearly 30 feet high, The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) is fabricated from a deconstructed red barn and seems at first to be a genuine house, but is in fact a scaled-down structure consisting of two facades propped up from behind with scaffolding. Simultaneously authentic and illusory, the sculpture evokes the psychological associations embedded in architectural spaces. Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) is set atop The Met, high above Central Park—providing an unusual contrast to the Manhattan skyline. It will be on view to the public from April 19 through October 31, 2016 (weather permitting).

Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.

“For this summer’s Roof Garden Commission, Cornelia has developed an astonishing architectural folly,” said Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum’s Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, “that intertwines a Hitchcock-inspired iconic structure with the materiality of the rural vernacular. Combining a deliciously subversive mix of inferences, ranging from innocent domesticity to horror, from the authenticity of landscape to the artifice of a film set, Cornelia’s installation expresses perfectly her ability to transform clichés to beguile both eye and mind.”

Parker incorporates the blood-red siding, wood floors, whitewashed posts, and corrugated steel roofing from an old barn in Transitional Object (PsychoBarn). Even in their transformed state, these materials retain evidence that the barn spent a century as part of a farm in upstate New York. The title of Parker’s work alludes to the psychoanalytic theory of transitional objects used by children to help negotiate their self-identity as separate from their parents. The piece flickers between the physical reality of the barn and the cinematic fiction of the house, bringing up their respective ties to comfort and discomfort. Neither entirely real nor completely false, it vacillates unnervingly between its identities.

About the Artist

Born in Cheshire, England, in 1956, Cornelia Parker studied at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Design and at Wolverhampton Polytechnic before receiving an M.A. from the University of Reading in 1982. Parker first came to public attention through her early exhibitions, with a body of work combining a fascination with material culture and popular iconography; she has transformed found objects, often through destructive processes, making the familiar extraordinary, mutable, and often tragicomic.

She has presented her work in a number of solo and group exhibitions worldwide.

Solo exhibitions include: Serpentine Gallery, London, 1998; Deitch Projects NY, 1998; ICA Boston, ICA Philadelphia, Art Club of Chicago, Aspen Art Museum, all 2000; Focus: Cornelia Parker, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 2005; New Work by Cornelia Parker, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2005; Never Endings, Ikon, Birmingham, UK, and Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru (2007-2008); Doubtful Sound, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2010); Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, Whitechapel Gallery, London (Curation for Collections Gallery of the UK Government Art Collection), 2011; Cornelia Parker, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 2015; Magna Carta (An Embroidery), British Library, London, The Whitworth, Manchester, and The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2015; One More Time, a Terrace Wires commission for St. Pancras International Station, London, co-presented by the Royal Academy of Arts (2015).

Group exhibitions include: Still Life, 8th Sharjah Biennial, UAE, 2007; Revolutions–Forms That Turn, 16th Biennale of Sydney, 2008; Medals of Dishonour, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2012; The Unseen: 4th Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, China, 2012; Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea, 2014.

Parker was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2010.

Publication and Credits

In conjunction with the exhibition, the fourth in the series of books on the annual Roof Garden projects has been published. The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker features an essay by Beatrice Galilee, the Daniel Brodsky Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, and an interview with the artist by Sheena Wagstaff, both of the Museum’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. The paperback is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press ($9.95).

The publication is made possible by the Blanche and A.L. Levine Fund and the Mary and Louis S. Myers Foundation Endowment Fund.

The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) and its publication were conceived by Sheena Wagstaff and curated by Beatrice Galilee, in consultation with the artist.

Education Programs

A variety of education programs will take place in conjunction with the exhibition.

The work of the artist will be featured on The Met website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter via the hashtag #MetRoof.

Roof Garden Bar


Sandwiches, snacks, dessert, and beverage service—including espresso, cappuccino, iced tea, soft drinks, wine, and beer—will be available at the Roof Garden Bar daily from 10 am until closing, as weather permits.

A martini bar will also be open on the Roof Garden on Friday and Saturday evenings (5:30–8:00 pm).

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April 18, 2016

Image: Installation view (detail) of The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. Photographed by Alex Fradkin, Photo courtesy the artist.

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