Contemporary Artwork Found in the Great Outdoors

As the nice weather comes and goes, we find ourselves dreaming of what we are going to do outdoors in the fresh air! This desire to get close to nature and fully immerse oneself is something that is felt universally. Nature has a particular allure that will never cease to capture the imagination of both non-artists and artists alike. In this article, Artsper has selected some of the best artworks in the open air from recent years gone by…

The Inhotim Gardens, (Brazil)

The Inhotim Gardens (Brazil)
The Inhotim Gardens, (Brazil)

A fusion of a botanical garden and outdoor museum of contemporary art lost in the middle of Brazil… The Inhotim Gardens are a real Eden. This green setting hosts Brazilian billionaire Bernardo Paz’s collection of contemporary art. Among the numerous featured artists, are Yayoi Kusama, Dominik Land and leading figures of Brazilian contemporary art, such as Lygia Pape and Adriana Varejao. In perfect harmony with the luxurious nature, the pieces show us the outdoors differently. For example, Miguel Rio’s Branco Pavilion, which offers a view of the jungle as if through a Kaleidoscope.

Christo’s Artworks

The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, (Italy
The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, (Italy)

Despite his recent passing, Christo was among the contemporary masters of outdoors installations, creating unmissable works of art. The giant projects, completed by the artist even when he was well into his seventies, are numbered by the dozen. In 1985, it was him, in collaboration with Jean-Claude, who infamously “covered” Pont-Neuf in Paris. More recently though, in 2016, the artist reimagined the surface of the Italian Lake Iseo. In this installation he built a sidewalk and an esplanade covered with yellow fabric, covering a surface of 100,000 square meters! This was a huge feat in itself. However, it was not as huge as one of the artist’s last projects which was set to be in the middle of the Abu Dhabi desert. Indeed, Christo imagined the construction of a pyramid 150 meters high with multi coloured barrels of oil.

The Tarot Gardens of Niki de Saint-Phalle, (Italy)

The Tarot Garden of Niki de Saint-Phalle, (Italy)
The Tarot Garden of Niki de Saint-Phalle, (Italy)

In the quiet Tuscan countryside, hides a fantastic universe, inhabited by esoteric sculptures evoking the major aspects of the Tarot. It is a universe created completely by French artist Niki de Saint-Phalle. Phalle is known internationally for her “nanas”, with the participation of her husband, Jean Tinguely. Opened in 1998, this garden houses 22 sculptures, some of which reach 15 meters high. This is a dive into the colourful world of one of the most famous French artists!

The MAMO, (Marseille, France)

Invader at The MAMO, (Marseille, France)
Invader at The MAMO, (Marseille, France)

In the heart of Marseille, there is an outdoors exhibition space that will make you go up high! Located on the top of the radiant city, the famous work of architect Le Corbusier, The MAMO, has since 2013 hosted the creations of international artists. The work of Daniel Buren and Felice Varini have already rubbed shoulders with the azure sky and the architecture of the Phocaean city, in an ultra-graphic style. Currently, in 2020, Invader has taken over the space with his exhibition INVADER WAS HERE. Visit to see behind the scenes content such as maps, tools and drawings and then head off around the city to find which parts of the city Invader has taken over.

The Rock Garden, (Chandigarh, India)

The Rock Garden, (Chandigarh, India)
New Chand’s, The Rock Garden, (Chandigarh, India)

The Rock Garden reflects Indian excess. This huge garden of 120, 000 square meters, inhabited by 1400 carved figures, has an exceptional history. It started in 1957 in Chandigarh, a city that was under construction back then, under the patronage of an architect… Le Corbusier. In a plot of land abandoned in the middle of building works, Nek Chand, started creating this place by himself from recycled materials, and illegally. Statues, courts and small monuments come slowly out of the earth. As a reaction to the rigor of Le Corbusier, the work of Nek Chand is only intuition and imagination, which gives to the city a striking contrast. Finally discovered by Indian authorities almost twenty years later, the garden was legalized and then opened to the public in 1976. It is the biggest example of raw art in the world today.

Lines (57° 59′ N, 7° 16’W), (Scotland)

Lines (57° 59′ N, 7° 16’W) - Pekka Niittyvirta
Lines (57° 59′ N, 7° 16’W) – Pekka Niittyvirta

In 2018, this collaboration between the two Finnish artists, Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho, was born. Their aim was to highlight our destructive relationship with nature and the impending threat of the climate crisis. Using lines of bright white light, triggered by the rising tide, the artists created a visual representation of how the rising seas levels will gradually reclaim the land. This installation opened up a dialogue between the artist and viewer. It illustrated elegantly how climate change will inevitably encroach on our lives and become unescapable; just like these bright lines of light that line the Scottish coast…

The Secret of The Great Pyramid, (Paris)

The Secret of The Great Pyramid - JR (Paris)
The Secret of The Great Pyramid – JR (Paris)


Infamous across the world of contemporary street art, in 2019 JR transformed the well known square at the centre of the Louvre into a colossal optical illusion. With a team of 400 volunteers behind him and using over 2000 paper ‘stickers’, this renowned artist made it look as though the iconic pyramid was sinking into a great hole. This spectacular creation was all in honour of the Louvre’s pyramid’s 30th anniversary. As it was made from paper, the installation quickly disintegrated under the heavy footfall it attracted from tourists eager to visit. This however, did not dishearten JR. He argued that the memory will live on forever in the form of the thousands of photographs taken by visiting tourists. JR’s outdoor installations are legendary and when they pop up are definitely ones that will draw you into the outside world!

Whether in the city or in rugged nature, artists are always being inspired by their surroundings! Using their environment as their canvas, these artists truly push the boundaries of how to present art. So let these inspire you next time you find yourself wandering in the great outdoors!