Thirty years ago, visitors to the current site of the Socrates Sculpture Park would have been standing on an illegal landfill. Thanks to the vision of the abstract-sculptor Mark di Suvero, visitors to the Astoria riverfront are now met with a bucolic park filled with large-scale abstract art and pristine views of Manhattan. The park is the largest outdoor sculpture space in New York City and hosts seasonal exhibitions featuring works by contemporary artists.
What You Will See
Socrates operates as both a park and a museum. As a museum, it installs a variety of creative, large-scale, outdoor contemporary sculptures. As a park, it hosts several events throughout the season, including concerts, fitness classes, film screenings, and classes. The park is open year-round, but the sculptures--which are all temporary and rotate regularly--are mainly a warm-weather event.
Why You Should Go
Large-scale outdoor art can be found around New York City, whether lining Park Avenue, in front of the entrances to office buildings, or on the roof of the Met. But the largest concentration of such installations in the city is found here. This quiet corner of Astoria provides a unique way to explore the intersection between art, urbanization, and nature, and an example of how the three can exist in harmony.
This fall, the Socrates Sculpture Park is hosting the most relevant and ambitious exhibition in its history. During the past few years, public monuments have been a source of unprecedented debate and controversy. Sculptures commissioned from contemporary artists, such as Jeffrey Gibson and Xavier Simmons dominate the grounds and examine the complex power for public moments to shape emotional and political discourse. This is a must-see.