New York’s 15 Can’t-Miss Summer Public Art Installations
We've got all five boroughs covered.
When you’re in the mood to see art, but still want to enjoy the summer sun, New York has got you covered.
With public art popping up all over the city, artnet News has rounded up the best on view in all five boroughs—in addition to our favorites from this spring.
1. Urs Fischer, Big Clay #4, Seagram Building Plaza
Towering outside Mies van der Rohe’s graceful Seagram Building is Fischer’s Big Clay #4. After shaping the work by hand in clay, the artist digitally enlarged the twisting piece to 42½-feet tall and cast it in aluminum. The result is a hulking behemoth that still bears the marks of Fischer’s fingerprints, writ large.
Seagram Building Plaza, 375 Park Ave between 52nd and 53rd Street; May 11–September 1.
2. Hanna Liden, “Everything,” Hudson River Park and Ruth Wittenberg Plaza
Liden pays homage to perhaps New York’s most iconic foodstuff with stacks of larger-than-life bagels. The artist sees the playful sculptures, presented by the Art Production Fund and Kiehl’s, as symbolic of the never-ending circle of life in the city she calls home.
Hudson River Park, July 20–October 20; and Ruth Wittenberg Plaza at 6th Ave and Christopher St; July 20–August 24.
3. Various Artists, “Image Objects,” City Hall Park
The Public Art Fund returns to City Hall Park with seven works that explore art’s growing digital afterlife, in which it is consumed not in person but via social media. Alice Channer, Lothar Hempel, Jon Rafman, Amanda Ross-Ho, Timur Si-Qin, Hank Willis Thomas, and Artie Vierkant have each contributed a work that was generated through digital technology, now exists physically, and re-enters the digital realm every time someone poses for a selfie.
City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan; June 30–November 20, 2015.
4. 14 Sculptors, “Oh Sit! 12 Sculptors Consider the Chair,” Highbridge Park
The Meatpacking District has the High Line, and now Washington Heights and the Bronx have the High Bridge, a long-shuttered pedestrian bridge and aqueduct that reopened this past month (on June 9) for the first time in 45 years. The city’s newest park debuts with an exhibition, on the esplanade leading up to the bridge, from art collective 14 Sculptors (only nine of whom have contributed to this outing). The work commands viewers to really think about the chair, from a functional, social, and artistic standpoint.
Highbridge Park (enter at 172nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue); June 6–November 8.
5. Heide Fasnacht, Suspect Terrain, Socrates Sculpture Park
A perfect counterpoint to Agnes Denes‘s giant, blooming The Living Pyramid, Fasnacht’s Suspect Terrain reaches towards the depths, not the heavens. The clever illusion of a large chasm swallowing up a small house was created not by burrowing into the earth, but by building upward with plywood panels designed to look like cracking fragments of the earth’s crust.
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City; May 17–August 30.
6. Various Artists, A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960′s to Present Day, across from the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse
This mini-history of graffiti is staged by No Longer Empty in conjunction with When You Cut Into the Present the Future Leaks Out, their summer exhibition at the long-abandoned Old Bronx Courthouse. Curator Lady K Fever has brought together over 30 street artists from three generations to show the evolution of graffiti lettering in the borough that is widely considered its birthplace.
Across from the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse at Brook Avenue and 161st Street; June 25–July 19.
7. DB Lampman, The Dance, Tappen Park
Though The Dance, named after the famous Matisse painting, has already been on view since September, its five interconnected, luminous, dancing figures, crafted from fabric-covered steel armatures, seem made for summer. The piece, which symbolizes the banding together of the community following Hurricane Sandy, is equally beautiful in the afternoon sun as it is by night, when it is illuminated by colored LED lights.
Tappen Park, Staten Island; September 15, 2014–September 14, 2015.
8. Various Artists, FLOW.15, Randall’s Island
Yes, there is life after Frieze for Randall’s Island, and not just for Electric Zoo! This year’s outdoor public sculpture show on the island features art from Nicholas Fraser, Sharon Ma, Rob Swainston, Rica Takashima, and David J. Wilson. Greeting visitors entering the island at the 103rd Street footbridge is Ma’s hello, five ten-foot-tall letters planted with hardy succulents, while Fraser’s All Consuming, a take on a traditional road sign, attempts to direct them. Instead of identifying island landmarks however, the signs point to extinct cities, and are written in birdseed, meant to be slowly eaten by local wildlife over the course of the season.
Randall’s Island; May 17–August 30.
9. Vicki Da Silva, “East River Flows,” East River Esplanade at 116th Street
Just across the river from Randall’s, opposite the Izod Stadium, a 60-foot-long photo installation from pioneering light graffiti artist Vicki DaSilva lines the East River Esplanade. The piece is made up of six photographs taken by DaSilva on the Esplanade one evening last summer, a shimmering wave of colored light rippling along the waterfront in each image. “Drawing” using an eight-foot long fluorescent lamp covered with colored photo gels, DaSilva captured the luminous beams in motion by using a long-exposure camera.
East River Esplanade at 116th Street; May 8–August 31.
10. Various Artists, Figment NYC, Governors Island
Figment’s weekend-long participatory art festival may kick off the season the first weekend in June, but it leaves its creative mark on the tiny island between Brooklyn and Manhattan all summer long. In addition to kid-friendly artist-designed mini golf, and Benjamin Jones‘s beloved TreeHouse, Figment is known for its large-scale interactive sculptures and City of Dreams Pavilion, which this year features not one but two projects. Highlights for 2015 include Mt. Marcy Couch by Kevin Knigge Dartt, an oversize couch shaped like New York’s tallest mountain.
Governor’s Island; June 6–September 25.
11. Seward Johnson, “Seward Johnson in New York,” Garment District Plaza
Hyper-realism comes to midtown thanks to Johnson (known for his somewhat-polarizing larger-than-life Forever Marilyn), who has installed 18 of his signature painted bronze figures between 41st and 36th Streets. The selfie-ready sculptures include 3-D renderings of famous paintings such as American Gothic, from Johnson’s “Beyond the Frame” series, and celebrities such as Monroe (here rendered in normal size) and Abraham Lincoln, from “Icons Revisited.”
Garment District Plaza, Broadway between 36th and 41st Street; June 22–September 15.
12. Santiago Calatrava, “Santiago Calatrava: On Park Avenue,” Park Avenue
No less than seven of monumental aluminum sculptures line Park Avenue this summer, in graphic shades of red, black, and silver. The architect behind the oft-delayed, extremely over-budget World Trade Center Transportation Hub, Calatrava offers an ode to New York city skyscrapers with these works, which almost seem to roll along the avenue with passing traffic.
Park Avenue between 52nd and 55th Streets; June 8–mid-November.
13. Sebastian Masuda, Time After Time Capsule, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
This nine-foot-tall crystalline-looking Hello Kitty is perhaps the world’s cutest time capsule, with Masuda encouraging viewers to fill the hollow doll with their personal effects. The artist is staging the interactive work in cities around the globe. Masuda plans to unite all the collected artifacts at the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics, slated to be held in his native Japan.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th Street between 2nd and 1st Avenues; April 29–September 13.
14. Various Artists, Welling Court Mural Project, Astoria
Now in its sixth year, this celebration of street art organized by Ad Hoc Art features more than 80 artists creating site-specific works on commercial and residential buildings in Astoria, Queens. With over 130 murals scattered over just a few scant blocks, the annual event draws street artists from around the world, including MERES One of the late 5Pointz.
136 different locations in the neighborhood of Welling Court, Astoria; ongoing.
15. Various Artists, Coney Island Walls, Coney Island Boardwalk
These murals curated by Jeffrey Deitch may be organized by sleazy property developers, and might be receiving less-than-favorable reviews, but who doesn’t love a trip to the beach? These boardwalk art installations include work by Swoon and Maya Hayuk, who is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Starbucks over their new Frappuccino ad campaign.
Coney Island Boardwalk, 1320 Bowery Street; ongoing.
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