The New York City Art Guide: Public Sculptures

April 20, 2022

When one hears of New York City, the Statue of liberty comes to mind: an iconic neoclassical sculpture that preludes the array of art-brimmed streets of NYC. The statue is always atop the list of where to go in the city. However, apart from that majestic edifice, there are other public art sculptures also worth seeing. Here are a few standouts which contribute to the vibrant ambiance and tourism of the big apple:

Charging Bull

A prominent NYC sculpture made by Arturo Di Modica is the “Charging Bull.” It is situated within the city’s financial district on the north side of Bowling Green Park.  The sculpture is a 7,000 pound and 11 feet tall bronze piece that the said Italian-American sculptor gifted to the Americans. He used his own money to create the sculpture in response to the stock market crisis of 1987. He wanted to depict the perseverance of business professionals in America in rising above adversity.  Since 1989, the piece has been drawing in people as a hallmark public sculpture of the American stock market. Furthering its famous stint is having a cameo in some of the mainstream Hollywood films such as Arthur, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,  and Hitch to name a few.

Reclining Liberty

A refreshing take on the Statue of Liberty is the sculpture of chilling out lady Liberty under the lush trees. Though its face may appear peaceful, pain is also reflected on it in retrospect of the past pandemic-stricken year. The statue conveys the positive outlook of looking forward to better days ahead.  Said sculpture is 25-foot-long and is in copper paint. It drew inspiration from Asia’s reclining Buddha statues. Artist Zaq Landsberg created the laid-back sculpture and placed it over the Morningside Park’s grass greeneries at Manhattan Avenue in Harlem. It was unveiled last April and had joined the range of the new sculptures that appeared in NYC this year.  

The Angel of the Waters

In a location such as Central Park, the Angel of the Waters is hard to miss. The Bethesda Fountain’s top bronze figure was made by Emma Stebbins in the 1860s. From its namesake, the sculpture has created an embodiment of the Bible’s Angel of Bethesda from the miraculous pool in Jerusalem. The Stubbins gives emphasis on the healing power that the pool has.  Like the Charging Bull, The Angel of the Waters has its fair share of media exposure, such as in films and television shows.  Some of the films that included it are Ransom, When in Rome, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted. It was also shown in the multi-award-winning Television legal drama show Law & Order.


Unlike other sculptures in NYC, Luminesce is an installation that complements landscape design. In 2017, Artist Nobuho Nagasawa worked at Hunter’s Point Long Island City for a public land project. Nagasawa created seven craters that glow at night and show the moon’s seven phases.  The artist noted the lunar’s influence over the tidal rhythms of the East River.  The place where the structure was situated was dubbed the Lunar Landscape which offers picturesque views of both the Manhattan skyline and the East River.

Alamo or Astor Place Cube

Tony Rosenthal made Alamo as a monumental sculpture at the Astor Place in Manhattan’s East Village. It was quite an onlooker to the said NYC spot since the 1960s. The cube has a length of 8 feet and is roughly 820 kilograms in weight. Initially, the sculpture was set to be displayed for six months in the area but was kept after being petitioned by locals. The contemporary piece was revered as a cultural landmark for being a popular hang-out or a meet-up spot. It is one of the five Rosenthal public sculptures that are still present in New York City.

These public art sculptures are a fraction of what you can see in the city. They are proof that you’ll never run out of sights to see in NYC. When you visit NYC, bring your camera and capture memories alongside NYC’s public art sculptures.

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