Don’t Miss New York’s 20 Hottest Public Artworks This Summer
This art is worth venturing outside to see.
As the last few days of summer fly by, now is the time to make sure you’re checking out all of the fabulous public art on view in New York.
Below, artnet News has rounded up the best on view across the city—and that’s not to mention our favorites from this spring.
1. Mika Tajima, Meridian (Gold), Hunter’s Point South Park, Queens
The stunning view of the Manhattan skyline from the new Hunter’s Point South Park is made all the more spectacular by Mika Tajima‘s new project with the SculptureCenter. Viewers are invited to climb into the work, and sitting amid a spray of water vapor. The color of the geysering plume changes from magenta to cyan based on the real-time price of gold.
Hunter’s Point South Park, 1-50 50th Ave, Long Island City; June 9–September 25, 2016.
2. Nari Ward, Smart Tree, the High Line
Visitors to the High Line might be confused by Nari Ward‘s new sculpture, a Smart car, covered in strips of tire treads, with an apple sprouting through the roof. The work is inspired by a lime tree the artist found growing through an abandoned car in his father’s yard when he visited his native Jamaica for the first time in 15 years.
The High Line, West 23rd Street between 10th and 12th Avenue; April 2016–March 2017.
3. Various Artists, “The Language of Things,” City Hall Park
As in 2015, the Public Art Fund is hosting a thematic group exhibition at City Hall Park for the summer. Featuring work by seven international artists (Carol Bove, Claudia Comte, Michael Dean, Adam Pendleton, Tino Sehgal, Chris Watson, and Hannah Weiner) the latest show takes its name from Walter Benjamin’s 1916 essay “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man,” putting a visual spin on the idea.
City Hall Park, Lower Manhattan, at Broadway between Chambers Street and Barclay Street; June 28–September 29, 2016.
4. “Dee Briggs in Foley Square,” Thomas Paine Park
Dee Briggs has erected three monumental orange sculptures, including one work that is 36 feet long, in Manhattan’s Thomas Paine Park. The pieces are collectively titled “Chirality,” in reference to the fact that they are not internally symmetrical along any axis.
Foley Square at Thomas Paine Park, Lower Manhattan, Ladayette Street and Centre Street; April 11, 2016–March 2017.
5. FELIX, Governors Island
Regular visitors to Governors Island, which opens to the public each summer, are bound to miss Benjamin Jones’s annual FIGMENT treehouse, which was retired at the end of the 2015 season. To replace it, FIGMENT enlisted 12 architecture graduate students to build FELIX, a large, welcoming structure made up of wood framed modules with mesh pockets. It’s an inviting complement to the 2016 edition of the island’s annual artist-designed mini-golf course.
Parade Ground, Governors Island; June 3–August 26, 2016.
6. Various Artists, Welling Court Mural Project, Astoria
Back for a seventh year of street art magic, the Welling Court Mural project features more than 90 international artists for 2016. A celebration of graffiti described by organizer Ad Hoc Art as “one of the best collections of contemporary street culture on earth,” the Welling Court project crams over 140 murals into a tiny Astoria neighborhood, outfitting commercial and residential buildings alike with work from both emerging artists and street art royalty, such as Lady Pink.
Various locations in the neighborhood of Welling Court, Astoria; ongoing.
7. Kenny Scharf, NEVERENDINGOGO, East River Esplanade
Measuring seven feet tall and over 50 feet long, Kenny Scharf‘s East River banner is meant to reflect the never-ending hustle and bustle of New York city. The artist has also created an adjacent painting, titled TotemOh, of cartoon faces on a brick column, that will remain on view until June 21, 2017.
East River Esplanade at 116th Street; June 22–September 30, 2016.
8. Chat Travieso, Boogie Down Booth, O’Neill Triangle, Bronx
For the third straight year, Chat Travieso brings art and music to the Bronx with a solar-powered jukebox, featuring a streaming playlist of music that originated in the borough, curated by the Bronx Music Heritage Center. The mix of salsa, jazz, hip-hop, and blues is a celebration of local heritage, while the structure offers a place for the public to sit and relax alongside busy 161st Street traffic.
O’Neill Triangle, Elton Ave Bronx; May 17, 2016–May 17, 2017.
9. JR, Ellis Island Pasting, Tribeca
French street artist JR revisits his Ellis Island-inspired work (previously the subject of a short film with Robert De Niro and an installation in the island’s abandoned hospital facility), pasting a 95-by-88-foot copy of a 1908 photo of children immigrating to New York. The work follows a 75-foot-tall photograph of a New York City Ballet ballerina installed by the artist on the same Tribeca building last summer. It would appear that the otherwise nondescript wall has become a source of inspiration for the Frenchman, but construction on an eight story building is set to be begin eminently on the currently empty lot.
DDG’s 100 Franklin Street at Church Street; July 12–August 2016.
10. Studio F Minus, Air Pressure, Brookfield Place
Toronto-based artist collective Studio F Minus is behind the latest initiative from Arts Brookfield, a massive art installation made up of kinetic bird sculptures. Hung from the towering ceilings of the Winter Garden, the birds react independently to subtle changes in in air pressure, moving in an amusingly naturalistic fashion in the cavernous space.
Brookfield Place, 200 Vesey Street; June 27–September 12, 2016.
11. Jose Soto, Focus, Marcus Garvey Park
Jose Soto’s two rectangular golden mirrored sculptures, with their small cut out viewfinder, provides an abstract view of the surrounding Harlem landscape. Focus is one of several works on long-term view following May’s FLUX Art Fair, which opted to present public art in Marcus Garvey Park in its second edition.
Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West, May 3–November 1, 2016.
12. Rachel Whiteread, Cabin, Governors Island
Rachel Whiteread‘s site-specific installation, a concrete reverse cast of a wooden shed, may be permanent, but you won’t be able to see it until next spring once the island shuts down this fall. The monumental sculpture is perched atop Discovery Hill, which opened for the first time this summer. The man-made addition to the park is part of the newly-opened Hills, which offer stunning views of Lower Manhattan from 25 to 70 feet above New York Harbor.
Discovery Hill, Governors Island; July 19–September 25, 2016.
13. Lionel Smit, Morphous, Union Square Park
This presentation of South African artist Lionel Smit‘s haunting bronze, featuring the conjoined heads of two young women, marks his first public art installation in the US. New York’s Cynthia Reeves gallery has teamed with the Art Miami and Art New York art fairs, as well as the Union Square Partnership, to bring the artist’s striking vision of South Africa’s hybrid identities to New York.
Union Square Park, East 14th Street and Union Square East; June 13, 2016–April 30, 2017.
14. Carole Eisner, “Monumental Sculptures at Prospect Park,” Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Sculptor Carole Eisner magically transforms cold, hard steel into gracefully curving ribbons. Four of her confounding works, which bend 5,000 pound I-beams into impossibly-elegant, curvaceous forms, are scattered around Prospect Park.
Various locations, Prospect Park, May 2016–May 2017.
15. Ori Carino, Thorneycroft Ramp mural, Forest Hills
Don’t fret if you missed the Queens Museum’s “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk” exhibition: The institution has also commissioned a permanent monument to the band, in the form of a mural by Ori Carino. The painting features a 1975 shot by rock photographer Bob Gruen. The photo was taken on the site of the new artwork, the Thorneycroft Ramp, the so-called birthplace of punk, where the Ramones hung out as teenagers.
Thorneycroft Ramp, 66th Avenue between 99th and 102nd Street, Forest Hills; June 5, 2016–ongoing.
16. Various Artists, Coney Art Walls, Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn
The controversial murals curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Joseph J. Sitt for a group of property developers are back for 2016, with brand new paintings by a new batch of artists. If your summer bucket list includes a trip to the beach, considering swinging by to check out D*Face, Nina Chanel Abney, Daze, and Tristan Eaton.
Coney Island Boardwalk, 3050 Stillwell Avenue; ongoing.
17. Nelson Rivas (Cekis), Into the Wild, Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
Cekis’s new mural, commissioned by the New York City Department of Transportation Art Program, is a perfect illustration of the city as an urban jungle. The tropically-colored painting shows a profusion of vegetation growing through a chain link fence, and is inspired by the nearby East River.
Brooklyn-Queens Expressway underpass on Atlantic Avenue at Columbia Street; ongoing.
18. Art Students League, “Model to Monument (M2M)” at Riverside Park South
For the sixth year, the Art Students League of New York’s Model to Monument Program has taken over the southern portion of Riverside Park South. The seven participating students, Aaron Bell, Sheila Berger, James Emerson, Tanda Francis, Markus Rudolph Holtby, Shiho Sato, and Sarah Thompson Moore, have also produced a collaborative sculpture for Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, entitled …And We Breathe.
Riverside Park South, Riverside Drive between West 65 Street and West 72 Street; June 16, 2016–May 16, 2017.
19. Kathryn Andrews, Sunbathers I & II, the High Line
For her first public art commission, Kathryn Andrews has placed two sculptures on the High Line. The first, featuring a photograph of a sign warning beach-goers that they are entering a nude beach, is meant as a commentary on the contrast between the park’s no-nudity rules and the less strict standards applied to the billboard advertisements along the length of the former rail line.
The High Line, at West 18th Street and beneath the Standard hotel between 10th and 12th Avenue; March 2016–March 2017.
20. Lady K Fever, All Along the Watchtower, Marcus Garvey Park
With this exhibition from the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, Kathleena Howie, aka Lady K Fever, aims to make the park “sparkle” with a series of reflective light strips arranged along the pathways in designs that suggest sound waves and musical rhythms. The piece’s title, All Along the Watchtower, is inspired by the Bob Dylan song, popularized by Jimi Hendrix, and the park’s tower, currently offsite during renovations.
Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park West; August 1–31, 2016.
BONUS: Captain America Statue, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
It’s not all high art in our park this summer: Even Marvel comics is getting in on the action, installing a massive monument to comic book superhero Captain America in Prospect Park. The 13-foot-tall, one-ton bronze statue comes to New York by way of the San Diego Comic-Con, and celebrates the character’s 75th birthday. After departing Prospect Park, it will spend September at the Barclays Center plaza, and the rest of the year outside a Sunset Park Bed Bath & Beyond.
Prospect Park Children’s Corner, near Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard; August 10–25, 2016.
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.