20 Public Art Shows to Get Excited About in New York This Fall
See work by Ai Weiwei, Dale Chihuly, and John Chamberlain on the streets of New York.
If you’ve so much as glanced at your calendar, you know that fall has officially commenced in all its foliated glory. In honor of the official turning of the season, we’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of public art to see across New York City as the leaves begin to change. Happy autumn!
1. “Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” at various locations
A massively ambitious Public Art Fund scheme will bring art from Chinese dissident and art star Ai Weiwei to sites throughout New York City, from Brooklyn and Flushing Meadows to Washington Square Park (where, in case you missed it, locals protested over the proposed displacement of the annual Christmas tree). Made from metal wire security fencing, each sculptural installation is a condemnation of the barriers that divide us, offering a message of acceptance in the face of what the artist deems to be the xenophobic rhetoric espoused by the Trump administration.
Various locations; October 12, 2017–February 11, 2018.
2. “Guillaume Légaré: Welcome” at Socrates Sculpture Park
The winner of Socrates Sculpture Park’s most recent open call for its Broadway Billboard, Guillaume Légaré, will show a work inspired by his experience as a Canadian immigrant. The piece, which shows a welcome mat laid down on a sandy shore, can be read both as a rejoinder to anti-immigrant sentiment and, since the welcome mat’s orientation suggests a greeting to the sea, as a suggestion that the waters might provide an escape. It also seems to express a poignant wish that refugees who have died at sea could have been greeted with open arms instead.
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City; Through October 2, 2017.
3. “Word on the Street” in Times Square
Times Square Arts and all-female artist collective House of Trees have embedded feminist slogans originally created for January’s post-inauguration Women’s March smack in the middle of the city. Signs bearing messages devised by artists including Carrie Mae Weems and Wangechi Mutu now appear on banners and trash cans at the Crossroads of the World. A billboard by artist and project founder Amy Khoshbin with poet Anne Carson will also appear on the Broadway Billboard, at Socrates Sculpture Park, starting on Election Day, this coming November 7.
At Times Square through February 2018; at Socrates Sculpture Park through March 11, 2018.
4. “Deborah Kass: OY/YO” at the Williamsburg Waterfront
A hit in 2015 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Deborah Kass’s monumental sculpture OY/YO returns, this time on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Depending on what side you’re standing on, the work reads two ways: the Yiddish word “Oy,” used to express annoyance, or the word “Yo,” meaning “I am” in Spanish, as well as a slangy greeting. The linguistic pun reflects the city’s multiculturalism.
North 5th Street Pier and Park, Brooklyn; through July 10, 2018.
5. “Pledges of Allegiance” at Creative Time
Creative Time continues its politically charged monthly presentation of flags designed by artists. Roberto Longo’s Untitled (Dividing Time) is on view now, with a second location at the Brooklyn Museum. Jayson Musson will follow with A Horror; bringing up the rear is Yoko Ono with Imagine Peace.
Creative Time’s rooftop, at the corner of East 4th Street and Bowery; Longo through October 10, Musson October 11–November 6, and Ono November 7–December 12. Additional sites throughout both the city and the country will also be announced.
6. “Erwin Redl: Whiteout” at Madison Square Park
Austrian-born artist Erwin Redl’s Whiteout, commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy, will transform the Midtown park into a winter wonderland, with glowing white orbs hovering and swaying in the wind as if suspended there by magic. (The spheres are lit by LED lights and hang from a grid made from steel poles and cabling, but the effect promises to be mesmerizing nonetheless, and a welcome lift to the spirits as the days grow shorter.)
Madison Square Park, Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street; November 16, 2017–April 15, 2018.
7. Dale Chihuly, Rose Crystal Tower at Union Square
A sugary-sweet confection from crackerjack glass artist Dale Chihuly comes to Union Square: a monumental sculpture that looks like a stick of pink rock candy. He showed this 31-foot-tall treat uptown at the New York Botanical Garden way back in 2006, and the upcoming showing coincides with the last days of his current “CHIHULY” blockbuster at NYBG.
Union Square Park, East 14th Street and Union Square East; October 6, 2017–March 2018.
8. “Video Narcissism” at the Highline
This outdoor video art exhibition takes art historian Rosalind Krauss’s 1976 essay “Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism” as its theme, exploring what she described as the inherently self-centered nature of the medium via works by Lex Brown, Xavier Cha, and Katrín Inga Jónsdóttir Hjördísardóttir in which the artists speak directly to the camera. (The current video installation, Laure Prouvost’s In-her dreams, is on view through September 27.)
The High Line at 14th Street; September 28–November 22, 2017.
9. “The Socrates Annual” at Socrates Sculpture Park
In this 15-artist group show featuring artists including Paul Branca, Devra Freelander, Amy Ritter, and Wang Xu, Socrates Sculpture Park promises works inspired by such disparate topics as a failed presidential amusement park and New York City soccer leagues. Expect a wide range of mediums, spanning cast concrete, glass, and even, perhaps counterintuitively for a sculpture park, painting.
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City; June 21–October 28, 2017.
10. “Matthew Jensen: Among Trees and Stones, Walking Green-Wood” at Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn’s Matthew Jensen has taken an artist’s eye to the 478 acres of the legendary Green-Wood Cemetery, with an exhibition at the Fort Hamilton Gate House that features a cabinet of curiosities stocked with historic art and artifacts from the cemetery’s collection as well as photographs he has taken and objects he has collected during his explorations of the site. Jensen has also made a map of the cemetery, to help guide visitors in their own explorations. The artist, joined by staff experts, will lead three fall walks on the Green-Wood grounds, highlighting stories of art history, horticulture, and preservation.
Green-Wood Cemetery, Fort Hamilton Gate House, Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, Brooklyn; September 23–November 26, 2017.
11. John Chamberlain, ROSETUXEDO at Christie’s Sculpture Garden
Christie’s showcases John Chamberlain’s large-scale aluminum piece ROSETUXEDO, available through its private sales department, at its public sculpture garden. The twisted, tangled mass of metal tubes is based on the tiny, hand-held versions the artist has been making since the 1980s from aluminum foil—to scale them up, he crushed flexible aluminum over rigid metal tubes.
Christie’s Sculpture Garden, 535 Madison Avenue at 54th Street; through 2018.
12. Tristan Eaton, Brooklyn Crush at 363 Bond St., Gowanus
Overlooking the streets of Gowanus is street artist Tristan Eaton’s ode to Brooklyn, painted on a water tower. The mural, executed in Eaton’s collage-like style, is one of the perks of rooftop access at the new 363 Bond apartment building, designed by Hill West Architects.
363 Bond Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn; ongoing.
13. Conrad Stojak, 4 Seasons of Lindens at the Linden Sitting Area
Known for tiny dioramas situated inside decommissioned parking meters, Conrad Stojak makes a new addition to his project, this one featuring one artwork for each of the four seasons. Each scene depicts a tiny, linden tree–filled park, a community-specific urban diorama frozen in time.
Linden Sitting Area, 9299 Church Avenue, Brooklyn; through April 30, 2018.
14. Samantha Holmes, “Hell Gate Cairns” in Riverside Park South
After debuting them on Randall’s Island as part of FLOW in 2016, Samantha Holmes has brought her Hell Gate Cairns, stacked stone pillars that appear at first glance to be natural rock, but are covered in delicate stone and glass mosaics. They overlook the boulders lining the river, which were moved there as the city’s waterways were widened and cleared, thus serving as a reminder of how mankind has reformed the natural environment.
Riverside Park South at 66th Street; through August 11, 2018.
15. Sophie Calle, Voir la mer at Times Square
During a visit to Istanbul, French artist Sophie Calle brought locals to the sea, some of them for the first time; Calle’s inspiration was to film their surprisingly emotional reactions. The piece, presented by Times Square Arts in conjunction with the French Institute Alliance Française, will screen for three minutes before midnight each night in October, part of the Midnight Moment series. (Voir la mer will be followed by Jakob Steensen’s Terratic Animism in November; Benjamin Lebovitz’s Borders, currently on view, runs through the end of September.)
Duffy Square, 7th Ave and West 47th Street; October 1–31, 2017.
16. “Rob Fischer: City” at the Park Avenue Malls
Derek Eller Gallery and the Fund for Park Avenue have teamed up with the Parks Department to present a massive, multi-chambered structure of clear glass, steel, and aluminum created by Rob Fischer. The skyscraper-inspired work, which incorporates silkscreen inks that will change in appearance over time, is part of the 50th-anniversary celebration for Art in the Parks.
Park Avenue Malls at 54th Street; through November 15, 2017.
17. Cecile Chong, EL DORADO – The New Forty-Niners at Sunset Park
Drawing on the mythical, fabulously wealthy metropolis of El Dorado, Cecile Chong reimagines the city as an archeological site discovered in present-day Sunset Park. The artist has crafted 100 metallic-colored bundled sculptures which resemble guaguas, swaddled Ecuadorean babies, in a piece that speaks to issues of immigration and community.
Sunset Park, 401-4199 5th Avenue, Brooklyn; through December 31, 2017.
18. Leonard Ursachi, What a Wonderful World at Tribeca Park
Romanian artist Leonard Ursachi has erected an egg-shaped sculpture made of woven branches in Tribeca Park. The piece, which looks like a giant bird’s nest, features a world map made of slathered concrete, a physical reminder of man’s impact on the natural world and a reflection on both individuals and society as a whole.
Tribeca Park, 400 Chambers Street; through December 15, 2017.
19. David Peter Fox, “Talking Statues” in various city parks
In 2013, filmmaker David Peter Fox created the first “Talking Statues” exhibition in Copenhagen. In New York, he’s recorded stories, told in 18 languages, about 35 of the city’s monuments. Simply scan the QR codes and the statue will “call” your phone and share its tale. Participating sculptures are in all five boroughs, with sites in Manhattan’s Bryant Park and Central Park and Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, just to name a few.
Various locations; through January 12, 2018.
20. Daniele Frazier, The Giant Flowers at Highland Park
The first-ever temporary public artwork in Highland Park, which sits on the Brooklyn/Queens border, The Giant Flowers is a series of nylon fabric sculptures that inflate with the breeze. The floral shapes float in the breeze, atop 12-foot poles, creating a constantly shifting visual display that reflects the changing weather conditions.
Highland Park, Jackie Robinson Pkwy, Brooklyn; through June 23, 2018
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