10 Amazing Outdoor Art Installations

by Grace Bonney

For the past few weeks (and through the end of this week), New York has been filled with incredible trade shows, off-site shows, gallery openings and pop-ups. From Sunset Park in Brooklyn to the Bronx, it feels like every space is opening up with something incredible to see. As I head out today to dive into ICFF and Surtex, I kept thinking about how much I’d love to see more outdoor art woven into the schedule of this month’s shows. New York can be tough with permit requirements for public art, but there are so many great community gardens and spaces that would be perfect for something installed outdoors. So to kick off today, I rounded up some of my favorite outdoor art installations for the past few years. Projects like this, especially when they’re site-specific, always make me happy because they get a chance to be seen by thousands of people, almost by accident. Some of them use relatively humble materials (like the Post-It installation at Gallerie Melissa) and others involve dramatic glass and steel structures- either way, they’re wonderful to take in and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that I see something that reminds me of these in today’s trade shows. xo, grace

Image above: Yochai Mato uses fluorescent tube lighting to create stunning outdoor installations.

Click through for all 10 installations after the jump

Image above: These incredible wire birds are the work of artist Cédric Le Borgne. They were installed as part of an outdoor tree light festival in Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. Photograph from This Is Colossal.

Image above: Artist Michael McGillis created this purple log installation at an outdoor park in Minnesota. You can actually walk through the two sides. Photograph from Inhabitat.

Image above: Artist Arne Quinze created this concrete and wood installation for the Flemish Parliament in 2008. I love the idea of creating a more graphic and architectural version of something natural, like a row of trees. Photo from Wikipedia.

Image above: This incredible 2009 installation is by artist Yochai Mato. Based in Tel Aviv, Yochai uses fluorescent tube lighting to create stark contrast between the man-made tubes and natural surroundings. This image of Flame (Gate) from 2009 is from Yellow Trace.

Image above: I love this dramatic door installation by Shaun George at North Grand Pre in Nova Scotia. Photo taken by David Shepard.

Images above: Brazilian shoe manufacturer Melissa created an outdoor gallery made up of 3.5 million Post-Its to create, along with 25 animators, a huge stop-motion film. You can see it in action here.

Images above: These installations were created by artist Edith Meusnier (Images from her website).

Image above: Artist Mademoiselle Maurice used paper origami sculptures to decorate streets in Angers, France. Images from This is Colossal.

Image above: Incredible glass installations with running water by SWON Design, photos from Design Milk.

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Image above: Norwegian artist Rune Guneriussen uses books and other paper goods to make dramatic installations set in between rocks and trees. Photo from Rune’s website.

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  • Great round-up Grace. I agree, I would love to see more public art in this country. Public art pieces, especially permanent ones, are often controversial but even that seems good to me – public discourse about art! Bring it on!

  • What a wonderful round-up! I love every piece. Isn’t it terrific to stumble upon something like this when you’re out in the world?!

  • I would love to see more public art in this country too, but I can’t help think some of the more ethereal ones like the origami or post-it’s would get vandalized in this country. Almost all of your examples were from outside the U.S.– why don’t we have more outdoor art here? This country doesn’t support the arts like it does, say, football. It’s sad. (I live outside of New York, so I’m sure their is much more public art there).

  • You all HAVE to see the post it animation. Unbelievable! DesignSponge, I’m bookmarking this page as a keeper. That animation renewed my faith in humanity.

  • Delightful and surprising. Public art such as this raises the level of energy for all who experience it. This carries on throughout their day and the effects of this exchange of raised energy levels moves from person to person. It’s beautiful that the cities and governments provide the venues and abilities of the artists to provide these public displays. Art is more than looking it is feeling and these beautiful pieces evoke joy in their creativity.