Saying Goodbye to the blps

High Line Art
Feb 21, 2013 6:15PM

In early February, days after deinstalling Richard Artschwager’s blps from the High Line, the artist passed away near his home in upstate New York. We were honored to have worked with Artschwager on one of his last projects and to present his blps on the High Line.

Coined by Artschwager himself and pronounced ‘blips’, blps are black or white lozenge-shaped marks made on public spaces, which encourage the viewer in turn to pay more careful and considered attention to the often ignored urban landscape, and to inspire focused observation.

blps date back to Artschwager’s early practice in the 1960s, when they were first installed at the University of California – Davis and subsequently in exhibitions in Europe and throughout New York City. At Artschwager’s first solo exhibition in 1968, at the Konrad Fischer Gallery in Dusseldorf, he spray-painted blps throughout the gallery.

This past October, blps were installed on the High Line to coincide with the artist’s retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Richard Artschwager!, which closed in early February as well. The exhibition included an examination of the blps, featuring a look at Artschwager’s 100 Locations, the artist’s 1968-installation of 100 blps around the Whitney. Along with High Line Art, Whitney curator Jennifer Gross worked with Artschwager to install 9 blps of varying sizes and media on and around the High Line. The collaboration between the two institutions “enabled Richard Artschwager to blp the neighborhood surrounding the High Line,” said Gross. “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.”

These quirky installations fit well into Artschwager’s oeuvre and artistic philosophy. “The first thing I needed was the definition of art,” he told New York Magazine this past August. “And I came on that right away: Art is useless-looking, its activity or production to no purpose.”

High Line Art