In late 1960s New York City during a tumultuous period of urban redevelopment, public art began to take on a new meaning of revitalization — as well as a challenge to the traditional notion that art “should” only be kept inside museums or galleries. In light of the Public Art Fund's 40th anniversary, the upcoming exhibition “Art in the Open: Fifty Years of Public Art in New York” at the Museum of the City of New York revisits how public art has influenced New York City over the last few decades.
Opening on November 10, the exhibition explores the past, present, and future of public art in New York City. It'll showcase over 125 objects — renderings, models, photos, and video footage — and artists like Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Isamu Noguchi, Red Grooms, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Kara Walker, and more.
Read a little more about the exhibition below.
Following pioneering exhibitions like Sculpture in Environment in 1967 and the beginning of rotating installations in public parks, New York City joined the national trend of artists being invited to revive urban centers, like parks, plazas, and streets.
“This idea gained traction in an era of growing urban crisis. New York City was emerging from a period of vast redevelopment [...] that transformed the very nature of street life. While the resulting landscape seemed to many to have lost its human scale, it also created new spaces that public art advocates seized upon. During the 1970s, the fiscal crisis, the falling population, and empty commercial spaces likewise created both a sense of a vacuum and a spirit of experimentation that fed the public art movement.”
“While critics have sometimes denigrated the resulting installations as ‘plop art’ — or art ‘plopped’ into urban spaces — this approach to public art has generated a wide array of opportunities for artists to use the city’s outdoor spaces as venues for their work.”
“Over the past 50 years, temporary public art exhibitions have fanned out across the five boroughs and an installation of public art is now an expected feature of any new building project. Today, the “art in public” impulse finds expression in new venues like the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Governors Island, all of which regularly host dynamic and high-profile public art installations.”
“Art in the Open” will be on display until May 13, 2018. Learn more about the exhibition on MCNY's website.
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