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Los Angeles–based artist John Knight interrogates the latent political and social forces implicit in the world designed around us. Working with no signature style, form, or medium, the artist instead approaches each exhibition site by carefully considering its architecture, history, and functions. His museum interventions often resist being self-sufficient artworks, instead working in tandem with the existing context to augment its reality.
In designing a work for the Whitney Museum, Knight identified its signature entrance bridge as the “sentimental moment” of Marcel Breuer’s design. Knight has focused in particular on the bridge’s often-unnoticed architectural attribute, the scupper, which allows rainwater to drain off its roof into a formal, concrete basin within the court below. His intervention involves the enhancement of the scupper with an architectural bronze hood and the addition of a “rain chain,” an early Japanese form of a decorative downspout, which has persevered as a popular garden ornament. At night, the Museum’s dramatic courtyard lighting illuminates this scenographic view, the abstract patterning of shadow and light evoking Hollywood noir. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is expected to temporarily occupy the Whitney’s Breuer building beginning in 2015. Knight’s sculpture suggests the artist’s effort to spruce-up the facade in advance, completing the scene by amplifying the underlying Asian tranquility so influential in the overall development of high modernism, one link at a time…
John Knight’s work is on view in the Museum’s sculpture court.