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After several summers of elaborate crowd pleasers on the Met’s Roof Garden–think Tomas Saraceno’s mirrored honeycomb Cloud City last year, and Doug and Mike Starn’s soaring bamboo jungle Big Bambu in 2010, both of which almost felt like playground equipment, in a good way–the museum gets far more subdued in 2013 with Imran Qureshi’s commission. In fact, the Pakistani artist Qureshi has covered most of the 8,000-square-foot terrace with splattered patterns of paint, all the color of dried blood.

Look closely and you’ll see feathered wings, and the whole piece is far more intricate than you might think at first, but from a distance (or taken in at a glance) it looks like some sort of awful crime scene. Which is maybe why people seem reluctant to stand on Qureshi’s work, opting instead to huddle around the roof’s edges, though that may also be about the cool breezes and spectacular Central Park views. Anyway, after reading about this year’s borderline-solemn commission I put off my annual roof garden visit until last week, fearing disappointment.

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Imran Qureshi’s Roof Garden commission will be on display through November 3. The Met Roof Garden is open whenever the museum is, weather permitting, which as of now is seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 Sunday through Thursday, and until 9:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. That there’s a bar up there makes these latter two evenings popular with the first-date crowd.

Check the video:

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