New York City has been the epicenter of the art world for the last century. Is has hundreds of small galleries (free) and dozens of world-class museums where you can see the classics and the cutting edge. But one of the greatest things about NYC is that you can see art just by looking around you.
Large scale projects attract well-known American and international artists like The Gates (2005) in Central Park, which was done by French artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s giant sculpture of a girl’s head (titled Echo) was featured in Madison Square Park and most recently New York artist, Orly Genger’s Red, Yellow and Blue made up of layered nautical rope will be there until September 2013.
Brooklyn-based artist Joan Benefiel created luminescent red female figures for “The Fashion District Pilings Project” that appeared along Broadway. It was surprising to see people pass by without noticing.
You can also find it in community gardens and vacant lots. While these are organized by communities and sanctioned by the property owner they are unexpected and pleasant to encounter.
And then there is street art that is wild, political and outspoken. Graffiti New York is an overview of the graffiti movement in NYC detailing the concepts, aesthetics, ideals, and social structures that have served as a cultural blueprint for graffiti movements across the world.
While the 70’s era subway graffiti art is long gone, there is still plenty of graffiti and street art to be seen. The last 5 years have spawned some great street artists who have gone on to become notable in their oeuvres. My particular favorite type of street art is called wheatpaste art (wheatpaste is liquid adhesive from vegetable starch and water). It is basically the process of pasting paper art to walls instead of the traditional spray paint graffiti technique and allows for more detail in the work. The artist Swoon’s (my favorite) pieces are found in unexpected places and they give beauty and mystery to what is an otherwise rundown or unremarkable urban feature such as a doorway or an alley.
Where to look? On and around doors, above your head, near the ground, on poles and street signs, traffic signals and newspaper boxes and scaffolding. So look around, now you will see it everywhere.