Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Makes a Splash with Katharina Grosse's psychylustro

15 May 2014


Katharina Grosse, psychylustro, 2014, site 6 (Warehouse). Benjamin Moore acrylic indoor paint. Photo by Steve Weinik for Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Press keeps pouring in for psychylustro, a large-scale public art project by Katharina Grosse and Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, funded by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and set to be unveiled this Saturday, May 17. Grosse and a team of artists have been working since late April, painting buildings and landscapes with lively pinks, greens, and oranges along a five-mile stretch between 30th Street and North Philadelphia stations. The "paintings" are meant to be seen from a moving train and will be viewed each day by 34,000 passengers who travel along this route.

At the Wall Street Journal, Jessica Dawson writes, "Ms. Grosse is known for stretching the definition of painting—she paints on almost everything, and only rarely on canvas—and she uses a spray gun instead of a brush. [...] But psychylustro is perhaps her most radical project yet, not only because it includes the elements of velocity and time, but also because of its conceptual and logistical complexities." Read more >

"Psychylustro reflects Mural Arts' most significant foray into the fine-art realm to date," writes Samantha Melamed of the Philadelphia Inquirer. She quotes Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts: "As we think about Mural Arts in the 21st century, and as we think about the future of painting in public spaces, abstraction, conceptual work, and installations are interesting to us. [...] It's about: Can you do really good art, have a really good process, and have an impact?" Read more >

At The Atlantic Cities, Stephanie Garlock points out, "The installation asks travelers to think more critically about the history of this stretch of Philadelphia. The sites include the sides of an occupied office building, an old railroad trestle, and an abandoned warehouse, which once housed a textile factory but now has trees growing up through its collapsed roof. The brilliant colors—vibrant whites and oranges on that warehouse side— draw attention to these contrasting pieces of Philadelphia's past." Read more >

"Color can be anywhere," Grosse tells Peter Crimmins of NewsWorks. "It is atopic. It has not a ground it can stay on and not trespass. In that way, I can break up hierarchies. I can break up relations between things. A big object and small object become one, because the color unifies them." Read more >

Nina Azzarello of Designboom writes, "The ephemeral and constantly changing installation will transform over time and—with nearly 34,000 daily viewers on the railway—will be a portal for new audiences to experience contemporary art, transforming a routine train journey into a voyage of the imagination." Read more >

The psychylustro project has also received recent press from CBS Philly, NBC 10 Philadelphia, Artnet, Complex, Philly in Focus, Philebrity, WIRED, Domus, and elsewhere. Stay tuned to the Center website for ongoing press coverage.

Mural Arts' psychylustro debut weekend includes an opening reception on Saturday, May 17, with public tour on SEPTA's Chestnut Hill West Line. Katharina Grosse will also engage in a public talk with Philadelphia Museum of Art curator Carlos Basualdo on Sunday, May 18, to be held at the museum.