11 Outdoor Installations to See in New York This Summer


Across the city this summer, works that artists conceived for public spaces are turning up — like “Estructuras Monumentales,” five large-scale sculptures that Carmen Herrera started making in the 1960s that will be on view at City Hall Park from July 11 through Nov. 8. Other artists, like Leonardo Drew, have had to do more fine-tuning. Mr. Drew recently crossed over into public art with “City in the Grass,” an installation he designed (and redesigned) with Madison Square Park in mind.

Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn

Sometimes the site of an artist’s work really amplifies the work itself. This is especially true of Tanda Francis’s “Adorn Me.” Fort Greene Park is the socioeconomic and racial dividing line of its neighborhood, with one side reflecting whiteness and affluence far more than the other. Ms. Francis installed her bust featuring three adjoining African faces where it would “speak directly to the African-American community, which often goes unrepresented in public art,” she wrote on her website. Impossible to miss at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Washington Park, Ms. Francis’s piece is partially covered in African tribal markings, and its three sets of braids rise into a chandelier-like headdress. Through July 19.


Court Square Park, Queens

Marketing signs for newly-built apartment buildings are everywhere around Court Square Park in Long Island City, along with construction cranes and scaffolding, signaling that more units are on the way. Amid all this is Matt Keegan’s “what was & what is.” An off-site installation for the SculptureCenter, it consists of a rectangular glass box with one mirrored side. A horizontal scroll reads, “For a long time this neighborhood was about what will be, and now I think it’s about what is.” The quotation, from a developer, appeared in a 2017 New York Times article about the area’s “skyward” development, and exemplifies how real estate professionals sometimes see the city as being in service to new development. Through Aug. 19.


Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Manhattan

This year, the Dutch sculptor Mark Manders has taken over the Public Art Fund’s inaugural outdoor exhibition site, Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast edge of Central Park. Titled “Tilted Head,” his piece is just that: a large head resting on its side. Surface cracks and depressions suggest it is made of clay when, in fact, it’s cast bronze. “All my works look like somebody worked on it and just left,” Mr. Manders said in a video about his process. “Tilted Head” resembles a massive, abandoned model that people could consider a stand-in for the real thing. (He also has work on view through June 28 at Rockefeller Plaza, as part of Frieze Sculpture.) Through Sept. 1 at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue.


High Line, Manhattan

On the High Line, “En Plein Air” (the French phrase for “in the open air”) enlists eight artists to reconsider the tradition of outdoor painting. In “Five Conversations,” for example, the recent Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid has painted portraits of fashionable black women on five reclaimed wooden doors — the old, paneled kind — adding subtle dimensions to each of them. Ms. Himid also integrated the doors’ accessories into her “canvases.” A round door knocker doubles as a hoop earring, a doorknob as a ring. Ms. Himid not only reimagines the process of “en plein air” painting, but also the subjects typically depicted within them. Through March 2020.


High Line, Manhattan

For a commission organized by the Public Art Initiative of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, José Carlos Casado references black female subjectivity in “I Don’t Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Ah Me … ” The work, situated near Madison Avenue and 123rd Street in Harlem, contextualizes how Mr. Casado felt after reading Maya Angelou’s seminal memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Working with archival-printed aluminum pieces, he made an amorphous, multicolored tower (one that becomes interactive with an augmented-reality app), and placed it within a 14-foot purple cage that, incidentally, wild birds use as a temporary perch. On the southern end of the park, Kim Dacres and Daniel A. Matthews have installed a black female bust, “Peaceful Perch,” near 120th Street and Fifth Avenue. Repurposing motorcycle tires, Ms. Dacres contorted this dark, textured material, contouring the figure from its folds and protrusions. Mr. Matthews helped fabricate the base, and situate it on the curved lawn above the park’s main path. Through Sept. 30.




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