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Monumental artwork by artist Katharina Grosse to animate Amtrak's Northeast corridor
The temporary public art installation will transform over time as the elements reclaim the space, unfolding in a series of passages framed through the windows of the moving train, creating a real-time landscape painting that explores shifting scale, perspective and the passage of time.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Transforming a major transportation thoroughfare through public art, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program will present a large-scale, site-specific installation (title TBA) by critically acclaimed Berlin-based visual artist Katharina Grosse. In the spring of 2014, Grosse’s work will be installed along the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor between Amtrak’s 30th Street and North Philadelphia stations, visible to SEPTA commuters and Amtrak passengers traveling between New York and Washington, D.C.

The temporary public art installation will transform over time as the elements reclaim the space, unfolding in a series of passages framed through the windows of the moving train, creating a real-time landscape painting that explores shifting scale, perspective and the passage of time. The epic work will create a choreographed experience that moves viewers through time and space, illuminating the rubble, the wild eruptions of nature, and the man-made contradictions of decay and rebirth in a post-industrial American city. The project has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

One of the most significant painters on the contemporary art scene, Grosse is known for her inventive use of vibrant color and innovative fusion of painting, sculpture and architecture. Grosse will use her unique spray-paint technique to spread intense color across a series of sites along a highly traveled yet overlooked passageway.

With nearly 34,000 daily viewers along that stretch of the Northeast Corridor, the installation will be a portal for new audiences to experience contemporary art, transforming a routine train journey into a voyage of the imagination. Some sections will also be visible from vehicle and pedestrian bridges. A detailed map and viewing guide will be available at a later date.

The ambitious project is a new venture for Philadelphia’s venerable Mural Arts Program, the nation’s largest mural program, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. “Katharina Grosse’s installation will be transformative for Mural Arts,” says Executive Director Jane Golden. “The organization is evolving as we expand the interpretation of our mission and values to generate new forms of public practice. We expect that this work will surprise and provoke our traditional audiences as well as new ones — and spark new conversations and directions.”

Grosse says, “The work shifts your notion of size through movement, so when you stand in front of it, it’s huge, but when you pass it by on the train it becomes small. This kind of experience — that your life is constantly in that kind of changing mode — is something I’ve always been fascinated by. And this time we have an extra tool, which is the train. In a museum you walk, and that’s the way you move. Here, you can fly.”

Grosse has realized major exhibitions and large-scale public projects across Europe, while recent U.S. projects include solo exhibitions at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the Nasher Sculpture Center. A commission with New York’s Public Art Fund is on view at the MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn through Sept. 14, 2014.

The installation will be accompanied by a series of artist talks and a scholarly publication on the work and its installation, designed by Project Projects and featuring essays by project curator Elizabeth Thomas; activist and painter Doug Ashford; assistant professor at New York’s Cooper Union; scholar and critic Daniel Marcus; and Anthony Elms, curator at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art and the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The exhibition publication has been supported in part by a grant from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Katharina Grosse (b. 1961, Freiburg/Breisgau, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. Educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Münster and Düsseldorf with Norbert Tadeusz and Gotthard Graubner (from 1982 to 1990), her extensive journeys brought her to Asia, South America and New Zealand. She was awarded the Villa Romana-Prize, Florence, Italy (1992); the Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff Prize (1993); and served as Artist-in-Residence at the Chinati Foundation, in Marfa, Texas (1999). In 2000 she was appointed to a professorship at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee in Berlin, and she is currently a professor for painting at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

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