Art in Tribeca: Phyllida Barlow at City Hall Park

Photos by Rose Yardeni

Artist: Phyllida Barlow

Title: PRANK

Location: City Hall Park

Installed by: Public Art Fund through Nov. 26

Bio: Phyllida Barlow, who died this past March at age 79, was a British visual artist best known for her large-scale sculptures. From 1960 to 2009, Barlow was an art professor at her alma mater, Slade School of Art, in London; it wasn’t until 2004 that Barlow had her “break” as a professional artist when her work was shown at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. She has since had major exhibitions at Royal Academy of the Arts, the Venice Biennale, the Tate and the New Museum here. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honors in 2021. “PRANK” was the final project she completed.

Background: “PRANK” is Barlow’s first and only collection of sculptures made to be shown outdoors. Each of the seven sculptures features a common object, such as a piano, paired with a pair of white rabbit ears. While the rabbit ears were a signature form used by Barlow in her other works, the materials used for the sculptures — steel and fiberglass — are a departure from the usual cardboard, fabric, plywood, scrim, and cement typical of Barlow’s other works. Still, these maintain her signature abstract, conceptual and playful feel.

​​“What happens if the art object isn’t a polite object, but rather an unwelcome guest?” Barlow said about this series. “For a long time I’ve been considering where art ends up and who it is for—PRANK continues this line of inquiry.”

–Rose Yardeni