I am a firm believer that you have to understand where you have been to know where you are going—and public art in NYC has changed drastically over the past century and a half. The first sculpture in a New York City park was George Washington by Henry Kirk Brown, which was unveiled in Union Square in 1856. For the next 100 years public artworks were predominantly commemorative or memorial in nature—realistic representations of notable politicians, soldiers, and leaders.
By the 1960s, new ideas about what constituted artwork freed artists to explore new forms of materials and exhibitions. Sculpture grew beyond the constraints of studio and gallery spaces, and people embraced the social and political impact of art. With big sculptures, big ideas, and performance artists’ impromptu “happenings” in the City’s public spaces, it was only natural that visual artists wanted to bring their artwork outdoors. Read the rest of this entry »