Anne Collier’s photograph”Developing Tray #2,” now featured on the High Line Billboard at 18th Street, is a ringing testament to the power of the High Line’s art program. This piece didn’t strike me when I first saw it a few weeks ago, in broad daylight, but lately I’ve been visiting the park at dusk, and wow, what a difference an evening makes.
The work is so spare and simple that it stands out quite dramatically in the busy viewscape of buildings, car headlights, and rowdy billboard ads around it. But what makes Collier’s image such a great example of the power of public art is the way you can overlay your own ideas onto it. And the High Line makes the perfect foil. I’m not a good enough photographer to create anything worthwhile, but I’ve had great fun framing the eyeball through the railings. Every view is different, and every angle offers a new surprise.
I’ve loved all the photographs in the Billboard program, but didn’t realize until recently how and why these photos work so well in their unique setting. Darren Almond’s FullMoon@TheNorthSea, a photograph that portrays the Huangshan mountain range in China on the evening of a full moon, was on display last year. I happened upon it one day during a rare October snow storm, which animated the billboard and transported everyone who saw it into another world altogether.
This billboard (when it’s not displaying a humorous slogan for the parking lot below it) makes you realize how different it is to see a work of art in a public space versus a museum or a gallery. The High Line’s commitment to public art is a boon to us all.