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A Fine Season for Public Art: Temporary Works in New York City

(top) Urs Fischer, UNTITLED BEAR/LAMP;
Rob Pruitt, THE ANDY MONUMENT;
(bottom) Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, BORDERS;
Will Ryman, THE ROSES


For a list of spring and summer 2012 temporary public art projects, click here.

A giant yellow teddy bear with a desk lamp sits on the hallowed plaza of the Seagram Building, parked there temporarily by Christie's auction house. An equally large marble-dusted head of a child dominates the oval lawn of Madison Square Park. Having lasted through a long winter, the Roses on Park Avenue are coming near their end, just as the flowers around them are in full bloom.

At the northeast corner of Union Square, a chrome statue of Andy Warhol, mercifully not four stories tall, stands on a pedestal. Over at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza near the UN, more than a dozen figures, half in aluminum and half in cast iron, engage in a stand off. Meanwhile, as artist Ai Weiwei is detained in China, his first major sculpture project is unveiled in Grand Army Plaza. A fine season for temporary public art is underway in New York, with a few more works yet to be installed. Here's a list and a map to help locate them.

Several works make for a good self-guided art stroll. For example, the Festival of Ideas for the New City (May 4-8, 2011) rolled out - or should we say rolled down? - artwork by seventeen established artists on roll-down security shutters along the Bowery. “After Hours: Murals on the Bowery” from the Art Production Fund includes work by Judith Bernstein, Matthew Brannon, Ingrid Calame, Chris Dorland, Elmgreen & Dragset, Ellen Gallagher, Amy Granat, Mary Heilmann, Jacqueline Humphries, Deborah Kass, pulp, ink, Glenn Ligon, Adam McEwen, Barry McGee, Sterling Ruby, Gary Simmons, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Lawrence Weiner. These works, on display on the roller shutters when the respective businesses are closed, are located on the Bowery between Houston and Grand Streets. Most works will stay for two months; other may stay much longer.


View A Fine Season for Public Art: Temporary Works in New York City in a larger map

Many of these artworks listed below are sponsored by New York City Department of Parks & Recreation's Art in the Parks program in collaboration with other institutions. See the Parks website page for more information, including descriptions of these projects. Several of the artworks are more fully described on this website, with links to posts noted below. In addition, look for new permanent works by artists commissioned by the MTA Arts for Transit program and works on sidewalks and streetscapes by artists working with NYC DOT's Urban Art Program.

Sponsors of other works, such as the Public Art Fund and the Art Production Fund, are noted below with their respective projects.

This map and list includes only temporary, as opposed to permanent, artwork placed in public places in New York. Several good resources, including maps and apps, list and describe the significant permanent artworks in the city. A particularly extensive map and list, and available apps, may be found at CultureNOW: Museum Without Walls (website). For a self-guided walk to permanent artwork in Lower Manhattan, check out Walking Off the Big Apple's post here. Search the tag "public art" for additional posts on this website.

This map and list will be continuously updated as new projects are added to the list and older ones close.

Temporary Public Art Projects in New York City

In Manhattan

Scene from The High Line
KAWS, Companion (Passing Through) 

KAWS, Companion (Passing Through) 
Plaza, The Standard Hotel (W. 13th and Washington St.)
Through October 2011

Kim Beck, SPACE AVAILABLE, three sculptures on buildings near The High Line. Rooftops along Washington Street, between West 13th and Gansevoort Streets.
The High Line, Manhattan
Through January 2012
Empty sculptural billboards hold no ads, a gesture toward the lingering recession.

Stephen Vitiello, A BELL FOR EVERY MINUTE
(sound installation)
14th Street Passage between West 13th and West 14th streets
The High Line, Manhattan
Through June 23, 2011
The diversity of the city as represented in recording of the sounds of bells from various locations in the city.

Jaume Plensa, ECHO.
Madison Square Park
Rob Pruitt, THE ANDY MONUMENT
Public Art Fund
Extended through May 13, 2012
Union Square Park, Manhattan
The artist's homage to the international art star who inspired him to move to New York.
Read Walking Off the Big Apple's review here.

Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, BORDERS
Through September 30, 2011
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Manhattan
Two different groups mirror one another to contest an imagined border in this important space near the United Nations.
Read about the installation at the post Negotiating a Walk Through Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir’s BORDERS at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.

Ai Weiwei, CIRCLE OF ANIMALS/ZODIAC HEADS
Through July 15, 2011
Pulitzer Fountain
Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan
Inspired by an 18th fountain clock near Beijing, 12 animal heads represent the Chinese zodiac.

Bill Barrett, 911 (from the Lexeme Series)
Through October 29, 2011
Finn Square, Manhattan, Manhattan
Memorial abstract sculpture of two 11-foot towers.

Will Ryman, THE ROSES
Though May 31, 2011
Park Avenue, between 57th and 67th Streets, Manhattan
Park Avenue Malls, Manhattan
Colorful and towering stems, playful bugs, and petals strewn up and down Park Avenue.
Read about The Roses and see many pictures here on Walking Off the Big Apple.

Eva Rothschild, EMPIRE
Through August 28, 2011
Public Art Fund
Doris C. Freedman Plaza, 60th St and 5th Ave
Central Park, Manhattan
Referencing the shapes of trees, echoing this natural gateway to Central Park.

Hester Street Collaborative, MALL-TERATIONS
Through Summer 2011
Allen Street Malls, Manhattan
The non-profit enlivens the streetscape with unconventional benches, maps, and directions, referencing immigration history and the history of the street.

Jaume Plensa, ECHO
Mad. Sq. Art
Madison Square Park Conservancy
Madison Square Park
Extended through September 11, 2011
Barcelona-based artist's 44-ft sculpture of the head of a young girl, lost in dreams.
In Madison Square Park: Jaume Plensa's ECHO.

Urs Fischer, UNTITLED BEAR/LAMP, 2005-2006
Seagram Plaza, Park Avenue between 53rd and 52nd Streets
Christie's
on view through September 30, 2011
23-foot tall yellow bear sits under an ordinary table lamp. The lamp works.
Read the post Ludwig Mies van der Bear: Urs Fischer's Giant Teddy Bear Meets the Seagram Building.

AFTER HOURS: MURALS ON THE BOWERY
Art Production Fund
Through June 2011
Bowery between Houston and Grand St. on roller shutters
artists listed above
International artists paint the roll-down security gates along the Bowery. Go after business hours.

SOL LEWITT: THE STRUCTURES, 1965-2006
Public Art Fund
City Hall Park
First outdoor career survey of LeWitt's sculptures, which he called "structures."

In Brooklyn

Patrick Dougherty, NATURAL HISTORY
Through August 31, 2011
The Plant Family Collection near Magnolia Plaza
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn
Woven-wood sculptures in celebration of the garden's centennial.

TOTAL RECALL
works by Martin Basher, Zipora Fried, Sam Moyer, Matt Sheridan Smith, and Kevin Zucker.
Public Art Fund
MetroTech Center, Brooklyn
Through September 16, 2011
Artists uncover their artistic pasts with found objects and memories.


On Governors Island

Mark di Suvero at Governors Island: Presented by Storm King Art Center
Governors Island
Through September 25, 2011

Andrei Monastyrski's Slogan (1977), in conjunction with the New Museum, an extension of the museum's "Ostalgia" exhibit. Through September 25, 2011.


Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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