Free things to do in New York City: Art exhibitions

Discover gratis art exhibitions and gallery shows in our roundup of free things to do for the art-seeking set.

0

Comments

Add +

Looking for some free things to do, art enthusiasts? Thought so. Which is why we found a bunch of exhibitions at galleries and museums throughout the city that won’t cost you a cent.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of free things to do in NYC 


Danh Vo, We the People

  • Critics choice
  • Free

In this remarkable project, Vo—a Danish artist living in Berlin whose family fled his native Vietnam for Denmark after the fall of Saigon—has created a full-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty, in 250 unassembled pieces. Each segment has been constructed using the original material and method—copper sheeting over a wooden armature—devised by the monument's designer, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Vo has stated that he has no intention of ever assembling the parts, that the point of the work is to leave them separate as abstract sculptures brought closer to human scale. Different elements of We the People have previously exhibited, both indoors and out, and here, the Public Art Fund presents nearly a fifth of their total number, in concurrent installations at Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall Parks.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St, at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Fri Dec 5
More info

Danh Vo, We the People

  • Critics choice
  • Free

In this remarkable project, Vo—a Danish artist living in Berlin whose family fled his native Vietnam for Denmark after the fall of Saigon—has created a full-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty, in 250 unassembled pieces. Each segment has been constructed using the original material and method—copper sheeting over a wooden armature—devised by the monument's designer, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Vo has stated that he has no intention of ever assembling the parts, that the point of the work is to leave them separate as abstract sculptures brought closer to human scale. Different elements of We the People have previously exhibited, both indoors and out, and here, the Public Art Fund presents nearly a fifth of their total number, in concurrent installations at Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall Parks.

  1. City Hall Park Vesey to Chambers Sts, between Broadway and Park Row
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Fri Dec 5
More info

Sam Falls, "Light Over Time"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

A process-oriented Los Angeles artist who works in a variety of media, Sam Falls has transformed Downtown Brooklyn’s MetroTech Commons into a playground for his interactive art. Exploring the passage of time through light and color, Falls displays several sculptural works that are activated by the viewer and will physically alter over time. His Untitled (Thermochromic bench), for example, changes color due to heat generated by sitters or the intensity of sunlight. A maze has been painted with multicolored layers of powder-coated aluminum; one side has protective UV coating while the other doesn’t, so that the piece will partially fade from exposure. But as it does, another layer of paint will eventually emerge and regenerate the original color. A set of teeter-totters feature geometric forms that collect rainwater, thus changing the distribution of weight. A giant wind chime is too big for an ordinary breeze to move it, so visitors do the job instead by pushing the chimes around. A more solitary experience is provided by a pair of white, aluminum shelters with tiny entrances and stained-glass skylights. The ambience within each of these “light rooms,” as the artist calls them, will change with the weather. Playful and thought-provoking, these laboratories of fun seek to engage the curious child inside all of us.—Paul Laster

  1. Public Art Fund at MetroTech Center Commons MetroTech Center Commons, Myrtle Ave, between Flatbush Ave and Jay St
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Fri May 29
More info

"Mike Kelley: Reconstructed History"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

It goes without saying that Kelley (1954–2012) had a jaundiced view of pretty much everything. In this group of works, he sends up U.S. history by defacing textbook illustrations of the founding fathers, etc., with doodles such as penises, swastikas and pigs' noses. Seen from the perspective of the unmotivated student at the back of the class, the images offer a piquant comment on American exceptionalism.

  1. Skarstedt Gallery 550 W 21st St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 10011
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sat Oct 25
More info

Saul Steinberg, "100th Anniversary Exhibition"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The centennial of the famed New Yorker illustrator's birth is celebrated in this collection of his works in multiple mediums, including drawing and photography. Steinberg was famous for his refined style of drawing, which combined traces of Picasso and Pop Art with an aristocratic absurdism.

  1. Pace/MacGill 32 E 57th St, between Madison and Park Aves, ninth floor
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sat Oct 18
More info

Saul Steinberg, "100th Anniversary Exhibition"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The centennial of the famed New Yorker illustrator's birth is celebrated in this collection of his works in multiple mediums, including drawing and photography. Steinberg was famous for his refined style of drawing, which combined traces of Picasso and Pop Art with an aristocratic absurdism.

  1. Pace Gallery 32 E 57th St, between Madison and Park Aves
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sat Oct 18
More info

"That Obscure Object of Desire"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Titled after Luis Buñuel’s 1977 film about sexual obsession, this group show includes pieces from the 1940s to the present, and teases out formal and thematic connections among a nicely considered selection of Surrealist, Pop and contemporary artworks. The leitmotif here is the body reduced to parts: Tummies, breasts, lips, knees, buttocks and vulvas are reassembled into new and unsettling combinations or isolated as fetishized objects. Dorothea Tanning’s 1970 stuffed pink-fabrics stomach, complete with navel, is joined by Alina Szapocznikow’s 1966 resin lamp made from a cast of her own lips, and Anthea Hamilton’s 2010 clear Plexiglas chair in the form of a woman’s spread legs. Elsewhere, foam cubes covered in’60s-inspired fabrics overprinted with images of nude models—a collaboration between Hamilton and designer Julie Verhoeven—converse with photographer Robert Heinecken’s Figure Horizon #4 (1972), in which a woman’s naked body has been rearranged to resemble a panorama of mountains. Rounding out the exhibition are Surrealist Hans Bellmer’s photographs of doll parts recombined into bulging monstrosities, and an assemblage by Alisa Baremboym featuring an enormous screw cast in gel. The exhibition’s big attractions are Tanning and Szapocznikow, both women who brought a more nuanced view to Surrealism and Pop, respectively. A cynic might wonder whether the show is an attempt to recontextualize the frequently unsavory output of Heinecken and Bellmer by exhibiting their work wit

  1. Luxembourg & Dayan 64 E 77th St, between Madison and Park Aves, 10075
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sat Oct 4
More info

Roxy Paine, "Denuded Lens"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

There’s something uncanny about a familiar object replicated in a foreign material, which is why the technique has been a familiar staple of sculptural production over the past 40-odd years. Paine is a relatively recent practitioner of the form, having exhibited since 1990. His subjects have included trees, boulders, fungi, paint drips, machinery and the human circulatory system, often mounted as installations or combined into surreal juxtapositions. His mediums have been equally diverse, ranging from resin to stainless steel. For his latest show, he turns to carved wood. The centerpiece is a full-scale replica in blond maple of a TSA airport security checkpoint, exact to the smallest detail: X-ray machine, conveyor belt, metal detector, bins for your belongings, even waste baskets. The whole shebang is situated in a diorama-style space separated from the viewer, with the floor of the work vertiginously tilting upward front to back. Open doors on either side of the rear lead to unseen rooms—presumably holding cells for those unlucky enough not to pass muster. The entire scene is lit by a bank of recessed florescent lights, giving it a washed-out, ghostly pallor. There are other, smaller works here—a chain saw mounted by a bullhorn, a half-finished pinball game—but mired in gee-whiz craftsmanship, they seem more wooden, pardon the pun, than the main event. The TSA piece manages to transcend its trompe l’oeil legerdemain to summon the image of a world haunted by its own paran

  1. Marianne Boesky Gallery 509 W 24th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 10001
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sat Oct 4
More info

Ryan McGinley, Yearbook

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

The youngest artist to ever have a solo exhibition at the Whitney (The Kids Are Alright in 2003, at age 25), Ryan McGinley is one of the shining stars of millennial art. A chronicler of edgy youth culture, McGinley started out by training his camera on his pals in New York’s downtown art scene. He then moved on to capture free-spirited, naked twentysomethings cavorting through wide-open landscapes, exploring underground caves and jumping off cliffs. Since 2008, McGinley has been shooting studio portraits of attractive, often-tattooed and, yes, nude young men and women against seamless-paper backgrounds. For his current installation, Yearbook, the artist has printed these images on poster-size stickers to form a single, immersive artwork composed of nearly 700 color and black-and-white photos of almost 300 different models. McGinley found his subjects at colleges and music festivals, and on the streets, and they make for a sexually and ethnically diverse lot. Except for a photo depicting a pair of female twins and another of two girls, the photos portray singular figures in all types of playful poses. Sometimes the same person appears in more than one picture. Hairstyles, tattoos and piercings serve as generational signifiers, while facial expressions, ranging from pensive to gleeful, reveal individual personalities. Covering every inch of the gallery’s walls and ceilings, Yearbook envelops the viewer in a celebration of youth. Shooting hundreds of images over two-hour session

  1. Team Gallery 83 Grand St, between Greene and Wooster Sts
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sun Oct 12
More info

Cory Arcangel, "tl;dr"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Over the past decade, media artist Cory Arcangel has explored the odd nexus of nostalgia and planned obsolescence with videos and large-format photos that reference 8-bit video games and other signifiers of the early digital age. The main series in his latest show comprises a group of flatscreens, hung on their sides and displaying ’90s pop-cultural clips downloaded from the Internet. Each scene has been altered using a Java applet called Lake, which overlays reflective or wavy effects onto images. Fin de siècle icons like Elaine from Seinfeld are thus given the shimmering gloss of memory as might be recalled by an iMac G3.

  1. Team Gallery 47 Wooster St, between Broome and Grand Sts
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sun Oct 26
More info
See more free art by date


Users say

0 comments