Where to find art in the streets of New York?

Manhattan view from the Brooklyn bridge.

Before it was New York, its name was New Amsterdam. With its countless museums, New York City is an essential destination for modern and contemporary art lovers. Beyond the walls of art institutions, you may stumble upon a masterpiece at the corner of a street. The streets of New York are full of curiosities, and whether you find them by chance or you seek them out, they will not disappoint.

We invite you to take a stroll with us along the lively streets of New York and to discover the city’s hidden gems, they may surprise you.

1. Let’s start with Keith Haring’s mural, Crack is Wack

New York Keith Haring
Keith Haring,  Crack is wack,  Paintings from an handball court in New York
1986

When it comes to New York, we have to mention Keith Haring. A major figure on the New York underground scene, Keith Haring was very involved in the social and humanitarian sphere. In 1986, the artist decided to paint a handball course without authorization. The painting was inspired by the New York City cocaine crisis that brought delinquency and violence to the city. This work quickly became placed under the protection of the city and was restored in 2007.

Where?  Crack is Wack Playground – 128th Avenue & 2nd Avenue – New York  10035 – United States

2. Now we’ll head towards Robert Indiana’s sculptures, Love and Hope

Love New York
A couple kissing at the base of the sculpture LOVE. (Photo Didier Forray)

If you’re traveling through Manhattan’s Midtown, don’t miss Robert Indiana‘s well-known sculptures. For LOVE, a visual designed in 1965, the artist’s goal was to create a symbol for popular art, to spread love and hope, but also to spread an anti-militarist message. As for HOPE, this design was made for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. Unfortunately, the LOVE sculpture has recently been removed for restoration. We will have to be content with HOPE in the meantime, hoping that it will come back soon.

Where? 1359 Avenue of the Americas –  55th Street & 6th Avenue & 810 7th Avenue –  53rd Street & 52nd Street – New York – United States

3. Stopping in Times Square for an acoustic installation

Time Square
Max Neuhaus, Times Square, 1977

If you pass through Broadway as you wander through New York, listen carefully… Between 45th and 46th Avenue, you may notice a change of atmosphere in the middle of the crowd. In 1977, the artist and musician Max Neuhaus installed an acoustic chamber under the subway gates. A continuous and discreet sound is released, slightly changing the ambience. Neuhaus’s goal was to create a work outside the museums that was accessible to all. More importantly, he wanted to discreetly interrupt the daily lives of New Yorkers by stimulating the curiosity of the pedestrians. This work of art, with great finesse, does not impose itself on the site visually. Instead, it offers an audio disruption.

Where? West 45th Street, W 46th St – New York  10036 – United States

4. Discover Greenwich Village with Eduardo Kobra’s work, Ellis/Imigrantes

Eduardo Kobra New York
Eduardo Kobra, “Ellis / Imigrantes” – West Village, November 2018. © 2019 Louis Takács

Born in 1975 in a poor district of São Paulo, the street artist Eduardo Kobra is self-taught. He is involved with many causes like the protection of the environment and the end of bullfighting. The artist’s style has evolved from being monochromatic to an explosion of colors and shapes, but always in a very realistic style. More than 500 of his works can be found in major cities in 17 different countries. And if you are in New York, you may find one of the 18 paintings that decorate the city’s walls.

Where? Ellis/Imigrantes – 250 W Houston Street, New York 10014 United States

5. Stopping off in Silver Towns with Picasso and Nesjar, Le Buste de Sylvette

New York Picasso
Pablo Picasso, Carl Nesjar, Buste de Sylvette, 1968. University Plaza, New York (arch. Pei & Associates) © Massachusetts Institute of Technology /photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith © Succession Picasso, 2016

Did you know that there’s a Picasso sculpture in the Soho district? Even though Picasso never set foot in the United States. In the late 1960s, architect I.M. Pei and his company developed the “Silvers Towers” for the university campus of Bleecker Street. I.M. Pei had a brilliant idea to decorate the concrete towers; he decided to add a work of Picasso. This bust is based on the “concrete engraving” method developed by the Norwegian artist Nesjar and is inspired by Sylvette David, the famous girl with a ponytail painted in 1954. I.M. Pei then acquired it and installed it in the park in the center of the towers.

Where?  Silver Towers – 110 Bleecker St –  New York 10012 – United States

6. On our way to Soho, the sidewalks are adorned with artwork by Françoise Schein, Subway Map Floating on a New York Sidewalk

Photographie de Greene Street à Soho où est installée Subway Map Floating on a New York Sidewalk de Françoise Schein
Françoise Schein (1985) Subway Map Floating on a New York Sidewalk

Watch your feet! In fact, you will not miss anything because this gigantic work (over 27 m) by Françoise Schein covers the whole sidewalk of Greene Street. Created in 1985, it reproduces the map of the Manhattan subway as it was at the time, using steel bars and LED bulbs. For the artist, the New York metro is like “a permanent flow inside a living organism”. She also considers this work as the starting point for her work on human rights, as the metro is “the most democratic place in all cities”.

Where? 110 Greene street – Soho – New York 10012- United States

7. Heading to the financial district with Jean Dubuffet, Groupe de quatre arbres

Dubuffet New York
Jean Dubuffet, Groupe de quatre arbres, 1972. ©crisa50

This sculpture by the French artist Jean Dubuffet was commissioned by businessman David Rockefeller in 1969. It was unveiled on October 24, 1972. Designed to decorate the entrance to the Chase Manhattan Bank, this 14-meter high sculpture is made of epoxy resin and painted with polyurethanes. Jean Dubuffet is a leading artist of the so-called “art brut” movement, an art full of tenderness, innocence, but also clumsiness. Part of his “Hourloupe” series, Dubuffet’s sculpture brings a touch of his innocence to the relentless world of New York finance.

Where? Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza – New York 10005 – United States

8. And finally, we finish the Street Art tour in Bushwick

D*Face, Till death do us (p)art, 2016

If you’re a street art enthusiast, we have the perfect place for you! Located in Brooklyn, Bushwick is a top contender in the world of graffiti paintings. Between signatures, mosaics, collages, stencils, and even advertisements, the district is full of diverse and surprising works. Come and meet artists who will be happy to talk to you about their work. And if you are a graffiti artist yourself and want to leave your personal touch to Bushwick, don’t hesitate to contact one of the many groups of artists in the area.

Where? Bushwick – Brooklyn – New York 10036 – United States

Artsper’s Street Art Route

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