The best outdoor art in NYC this summer
By Rossilynne Skena Culgan, Anna Rahmanan, and Shaye Weaver
July 11, 2023
New York City is full of free outdoor art that you don't even have to go to a museum to see. Sculptures, murals and photographs can be found in its parks, sidewalks and on its buildings!
Locations such as the High Line, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens and other NYC locales all have a wide variety of pieces awaiting you, from massive sculptures to eye-popping murals and graffiti.
Best of all, it costs you nothing to pay a visit. Below, find the best outdoor art in NYC to brighten up any summer day.
1. Plastic water bottle chandeliers
On the Upper East Side, dazzling chandeliers are a common decoration in fancy apartments. But these new chandelier sculptures in the neighborhood aren't like any other.
Artist Willie Cole recently debuted four monumental chandeliers made of thousands of plastic water bottles as a way to draw attention to single-use plastics. The sculptures will be on view through the end of the year on the median of Park Avenue between 69th and 70th Streets.
Check out the bronze sculpture "Kneeler," which evokes a spirit of harmony and optimism. The artwork, created by artist Joy Brown," joins two other sculptures in the Garment District, "Animal with Rider" and "Two Together."
Find the sculptures in the heart of Midtown on Broadway between 39th and 40th Street daily through August.
Gigantic playful sculpture called "PRANK" are now on view in City Hall Park in Manhattan’s Financial District. Presented by the Public Art Fund, this collection is the late British artist Phyllida Barlow’s final series of large-scale freestanding sculptures. The free, public exhibit showcases seven new steel and fiberglass sculptures, the artist’s first series of outdoor sculptures made from long-lasting materials.
In “PRANK,” Barlow’s work is intended to be comical, with her signature sense of surprise, mischief, and playfulness. The concept invites passersby to discuss their questions about play, work, art and life.
“PRANK” is open from 7am - midnight daily through November 26.
4. "In every language there is Land"
Anyone can walk through this towering new sculpture in Brooklyn Bridge Park that shouts in all caps: “LAND.” But anyone cannot walk through certain lands, especially at border crossings. That juxtaposition comes into stark relief at this recently installed 30-foot sculpture that simultaneously evokes Pop Art and questions the legacy of colonization.
Nicholas Galanin's "In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra" is now on view at the Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park through fall 2023.
5. "Old Tree" at The Highline
A vibrant new sculpture called “Old Tree” is now on view at the Highline.
Find it over the intersection of 10th Avenue and 30th Street, claiming residency through Fall 2024. Created by Zurich-based artist Pamela Rosenkranz, the vivid sculpture is the third High Line Plinth commission, which changes every 18 months.
The pink and red “Old Tree” sculpture stretches 25 feet into the sky. It's shaped like a realistic tree but constructed completely from man-made materials.
6. "Montague Street Blooms"
A new colorful floral installation has bloomed in Brooklyn Heights, and the pop-up is thankfully pollen free!
The Montague Street Business Improvement District (Montague BID) debuted “Montague Street Blooms,” a 6-foot tall pop-up flower park installation.
Created by local artist Piera Bonerba, owner of Le Meraviglie Art Studio at 108 Montague Street, and artist Emanuele Simonelli, the pop-up park will return to Montague Street between Henry and Hicks Streets every Saturday in July from noon-6pm.
7. "Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings"
“Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings” is a new 9-foot-tall sculpture of Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace in Dumbo at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Specifically, you’ll find the new work at the northeast corner of Prospect Street and Washington Street.
The stainless steel and bronze creation is the work of artist Sherwin Banfield, who sought to both honor Biggie and challenge "the traditions of western public sculpture by representing his African American artistry, lineage and evolution."
When you appreciate the greenspaces around NYC, do you ever stop to think about the people who make those spaces so enjoyable? Artist Fanny Allié hopes you do, and her new sculpture exhibition called Shadows brings those park workers to the forefront.
The mixed-media artist created 10 colorful sculptures inspired by the workers who maintain Bella Abzug Park (542 W 36th St.). To create the sculptures, Allié spent time with each person and asked them to pose in a manner that reflected themselves. She captured their poses on film, drew their outlines and translated them into steel silhouettes. Each worker chose their sculpture’s color.
The exhibit invites people to experience the park in a new way as a place for compelling, free art. In addition to the sculptures, visitors can scan a QR code to hear the subjects sing songs, whistle, hum, laugh and share stories about their work.
The Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance commissioned Allié to create the new public art, which will be on view until September 2023.
Upper East SideUntil Aug 27, 2023
Stand next to a new 18-foot-tall patinated bronze sculpture called Ancestor at the southeast entrance to Central Park. The colossal artwork depicts a universal mother figure linking our cultural and personal pasts and futures. Adorned with the heads of her 23 children that extend from her body, she embodies multiculturalism, pluralism and interconnectedness. They manifest a sense of belonging and celebrate the mother as a keeper of wisdom and the eternal source of creation and refuge.
"Ancestor" is by New Delhi and London-based artist Bharti Kher, and the exhibition is presented by the Public Art Fund.
See Ancestor for free at Doris C. Freedman Plaza through August 27, 2023.
10. "Shadow of a Face"
A new 25-foot-tall statue celebrating the life of abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman now sits in the recently renamed park Harriet Tubman Square by Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey. It's located just 20 minutes from NYC.
“Shadow of a Face,” designed by architect and New Jersey native Nina Cooke John, replaced the monument of Christopher Columbus that stood in its place until its removal in 2020, following George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis.