Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City

The 28-foot-tall cluster of steel-and-Plexiglas polyhedrons sits on the roof of the Met and welcomes viewers to climb in.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Through Nov. 4

Tomás Saraceno’s summertime addition to the roof of the Met is a cloud in name only, said Kyle Chayka in A 28-foot-tall cluster of steel-and-Plexiglas polyhedrons, Cloud City weighs about 20 tons and in no way looks as if it needs to be tethered in place by the tension cables attached to it. “The sculpture is fun,” at least. Outfitted with transparent stairways and numerous mirrored surfaces, it welcomes viewers to climb in and get themselves pleasantly disoriented while imagining that someday humans might build airborne cities that similarly evoke cell clusters. If you clamber in, “don’t be surprised to find yourself looking at the bottom of your shoes through the reflection of a side wall,” or to find that this was probably the worst day ever to decide to wear a skirt. Enjoy the experience, but don’t expect a work “transcendent enough to achieve liftoff.”

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Saraceno has done better, said Roberta Smith in The New York Times. The 39-year-old Argentine has often promoted his vision of cloud-like cities with “ingeniously engineered” assemblages of large, clear plastic spheres. But even those more whimsical installations don’t seem as if they belong in an art museum. “The recurring mantra about Saraceno’s work is that it combines architecture, art, and science. It does, but unequally: Art is the loser, the part he has thought through and connected to the least.” Sitting inside Cloud City, you’ll enjoy “some of the best views of Central Park’s green ocean of treetops ever.” But nature deserves all the credit there. Saraceno’s work often directs us to take notice of nature’s wonders, but “it largely skirts the challenges of transformation and originality that might make it of more lasting interest as art.”

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