Katharina Grosse has just unveiled her latest exhibition at the Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden, New York. The German artist transforms its decaying aquatics building into a thrilling exterior painting, using her swirling spray painting technique.

The temporary exhibition is part of “Rockaway!” a biennial series commissioned by MoMA PS1 in the aftermath of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Grosse’s work reveals the paint bleeding from structure and onto the sandy landscape.

The monumental work follows the 2014 installation by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff also at Fort Tilden in the Rockaway. This nature reserve was one of the hardest hit by the hurricane and Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA and PS1, was instrumental in setting up shelters for the affected community.

Katharina Grosse expands the scope of her paintings far beyond the borders of a canvas. Using a technique that sprays directly onto site-specific structures, the artist explores new possibilities in painting and enhances the sometimes rigid beauty of natural and manmade structures.  

The effect of the painting is much like a wave crashing across the building: “The painting comes flowing through the air and lands on the structure,” said the artist. Once this show is finished in November the park service will remove the building as part of its efforts to return Rockaway to its former glory—many ecologically diverse sand dunes were swept away by the hurricane. “Rockaway!” then also acts as a celebratory farewell to a structure that was abandoned by the army as early as 1974. 


Katharina Grosse's “Rockaway!” runs from the 3rd of July through to the 30th of November 2016.