Manhattan Island turned Art Gallery

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable” –George Bernard Shaw

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Carol Bove, Celest, 2013, part of the High Line commission Caterpillar. Photo by Timothy Schenck

Public art has been around for ages, however its prevalence today demonstrates our need for something more powerful and profound then information and technology. We are overloaded with artificial stimulation coming from every source imaginable and are constantly in a state of movement, especially in urban settings. Contemporary art is being incorporated into the city landscape of New York, as well as many other metropolitan centers, more than ever. Clearly we have recognized the importance, and further the need, for art to be accessible to the public without necessarily having to seek it out in museums or galleries.

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Alice Aycock, Park Avenue Chase, 2014, Park Avenue Malls, Manhattan

Artists’ works are sprawled throughout the tightly packed Island of Manhattan from Carol Bove’s Celeste (2013) on the train tracks of the High Line, to Alice Aycock’s Park Avenue Chase on the upper east side, to Olaf Breuning’s Clouds that welcomes pedestrians into Central Park. Seeing these works in passing during a jam-packed day is truly a breath of fresh air. They give our dense city a spirit and vitality that is not bound to, or defined by, the movement and restlessness of the typical ambitious New Yorker.

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Olaf Breuning, Clouds, 2014, Dorris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park

City planning is becoming inseparable from the arts beyond architecturally, meaning that artists are essential in the process of building up and preserving cities, seen through New York City’s Percent for Art program:

“Since 1982, New York City’s Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork…Public art serves as an expression of the community, as well as a landmark. These public sites provide an important venue for all New Yorkers and visitors to appreciate artwork outside the traditional museum or gallery setting.”  (


  • – Olivia Marciano
Categories: Artists