Sixty years of art from the Iranian-born artist Siah Armajani are now on display at the Met Breuer, highlighting nearly 100 pieces of quietly revolutionary collage and architectural models.

Exile, the refugee crisis, and the role of public art are all addressed overtly, but not directly, in Follow This Line. The show charts Armajani’s trajectory as an artist throughout the 1960s and ’70s and his use of magic spells, propaganda speeches, public art installations, computer-generated graphics, and other ephemera to create a “language of exile.” Of particular note are the models from the 1974-75 series Dictionary for Building, of which only 150 pieces remain from what was originally thousands of compartmentalized building details that sought to create a visual vocabulary of architecture through strange, nonsensical combinations of features.

Follow This Line is a phrase that constantly reappears in Armajani’s work and evokes the public nature and “claiming” of urban space—it refers to the way children walking home from school would drag their pencils across walls on the way.

Photo of a model of a bridge spanning over a tree

A model of Bridge over Tree, 1970 (Courtesy the artist/Collection Max Protetch)

Running concurrently with Follow This Line is an installation of Bridge Over Tree in Brooklyn Bridge Park on the Empire Fulton Ferry lawn, the first staging of that piece since 1970. That example of built infrastructure deferring to nature will remain on display and open to the public until September 29, 2019.

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