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A Guide to America’s Art Parks

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Photo courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

A far cry from the white cube–style galleries that are so popular today, outdoor sculpture parks represent a hybrid of art and nature. As Italian architect Francesca Cigola writes in the introduction of her new book, Art Parks: A Tour of America’s Sculpture Parks and Gardens (Princeton Architectural Press, June 2013), “Works of art in these spaces interact with surrounding landscapes, playing off their character, colors, and makeup; in many cases the boundaries between the works and their settings are blurred.”

The book explores three types of outdoor art parks in the United States: leisure, learning and collectors’ spaces. Leisure spaces, like Griffis Sculpture Park in East Otto, New York, are the smallest and most intimate variety, usually located outside of cities and featuring a harmony between art and nature. At Griffis visitors are encouraged to interact with the art, even if that means touching, walking through or climbing on the sculptures.

Learning spaces, housed in museums or universities, tend to have an educational and aesthetic purpose. MoMA PS1, in Long Island City, New York, holds an annual competition called the Young Architects Program, with the selected work exhibited in the museum garden during spring and summer events.

Collectors’ spaces are private collections. The General Mills Sculpture Garden, at the company’s headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is essentially an extension of the local heavyweight’s sizeable art collection. Standout works include the towering steel Man with Briefcase (1987) (pictured above), which takes a playful jab at corporate culture, and Stone Court (1988), which features a wall that is dug into the side of a hill, making for a place where employees frequently go to relax.

Whichever park you choose to visit—the country has more than 50 to choose from; there are countless others abroadArt Parks is the perfect companion on your journey.


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