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High Line and Standard Hotel Dotted with Pill-Shaped Art

By Andrea Swalec | October 24, 2012 9:26am | Updated on October 25, 2012 1:20pm

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — Pill-shaped public art is popping up all around the High Line.

More than a dozen works by the modern artist Richard Artschwager are being installed on the High Line, Standard Hotel and the Whitney Museum of American Art's future location in the Meatpacking District.

Ranging in size from 1 to 5-feet-tall, the simple black or white capsules the artist calls "blps" are going up in conjunction with a retrospective of Artschwager's work that opens Thursday at the Whitney.

According to a statement from the museum, the spots placed in surprise locations are intended to "inspire focused looking, and draw attention to architecture, structures and surfaces that usually go unnoticed."

The artist first introduced blps, pronounced "blips," in the 1960s, installing them in New York, California and Europe. In 1968, Artschwager pasted 100 of the capsules around the Whitney. Photographs of that project appear in the new exhibition, which is exuberantly named "Richard Artschwager!"

Cecilia Alemani, the director of High Line Art, said putting "a three-dimensional painting" on the High Line was a natural choice.

“The High Line is a natural theater for art, with its lush landscape, innovative design and breathtaking views of New York City," she said in a statement.

The curator of the modern art gallery at Yale University, Jennifer Gross, said the spots call attention to the beauty around them.

"Artschwager’s blps are a natural extension of the High Line’s embrace of its community and will only make even more visible the aesthetic richness of New York," she said in a statement.

Blps are also installed around the Whitney's current location at 945 Madison Ave. at 75th Street, a museum spokeswoman said.

People strolling on the High Line Tuesday afternoon said the art was so subtle they had not noticed it.

"If it's meant to be unobtrusive, it's unobtrusive," said Alice Olive, an Upper East Side resident who works in investor relations.

Her sister, who was visiting from Sydney, Australia, recommended a tweak to the project.

"I think a cluster of them would be more striking. Just one gets lost," said Kathleen Olive, a cultural tour leader.

Deborah Nasalga, a Lower East Side native who now lives in Cairo, N.Y., said she thought  the blps, which will be brought to the High Line by the Whitney and Friends of the High Line, blended in too well with their surroundings.

"I barely see how anyone would notice them," she said.

The blps will be on view through Feb. 3.