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The Sculpture Garden

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by Dora Bona (subscribe)
A freelance writer, and amateur photographer Dora also teaches creative writing classes. Check out her website at
Published May 5th 2011
I've always thought that the whole city of New York is an art gallery. No matter where you go in the city, you'll find something created from within the eclectic minds of its residents. Sculptures appear from seemingly nowhere, mosaic masterpieces adorn lamp posts, aerosol art graces the sides of buildings. Even people become art, posing as living statues at the entrances to Central Park.

The Sculpture Garden is an atrium at 590 Madison Avenue, and a true urban oasis. I found it one of the loveliest, most tranquil spaces in all of midtown.

Nestled between Trump Tower and the Sony Building, the former I.B.M. building is located between 56th and 57th Streets, and the glass enclosed public space has both garden and sculptural elements. Office workers and weary tourists can enjoy a bite to eat amid bamboo trees and a spectacular collection of contemporary sculptures and large-scale art.

The building, with its cantilevered entrance was bought in 1994 by Edward J. Minskoff, a member of a family long associated with major office building development in Manhattan after World War II. Mr. Minskoff, an avid art collector then went about transforming the area and applied to the City Planning Commission one year later for permission to modify the space.

In the book, "Privately Owned Public Spaces The New York Experience," (pg 173, John Wiley & Sons, 2000), Jerold S. Kayden writes that this covered pedestrian space has garnered "near universal recognition as New York City's peerless privately owned public space, a tree-filled conservatory and public living room rolled into one."

The Sculpture Garden is now home to sculptures by such artists as Henry Moore, Karel Appel, and Alexander Calder.

Takashami Murakami's Oval Buddha, a towering 18 feet tall aluminum-and-steel sculpture is covered entirely in platinum leaf and layers of delicately carved lotus petals - with an elephant at its base. In 1999 Naoki Takizawa, chief designer for Issey Miyake asked Murakami to create an iconic character for a new line of t-shirts, which could be compressed and sold in an egg-shaped packaging.

Hundreds of Big Apple sculptures, decorated by local and international artists, popped up all over New York in 2004 as part of the Big Apple Fest, a public art initiative to promote the city and benefit charities. The oversized apples are four feet tall and four feet in diameter. They are cast from acrylic, allowing artists to create three-dimensional works inside or decorate the exterior.

The entrance to the atrium is dominated by the sculpture Welcome Parade made by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985).

Whether you love it or hate it, the Sculpture Garden is yet another New York icon and you can't walk past without investigating.
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Why? It's a must-see if you love contemporary art
When: All day every day
Where: 590 Madison Avenue, between 56th & 57th Streets
Cost: Free to look
I love the sculpture garden, it's quite near where i work and I often stop in for coffee. It's really relaxing.
By ilean1 - reader
Monday, 23rd of May @ 06:25 am
Thank you for the truly informative and beautiful article .I visited this place many years ago,I will do now again ,with much enthusiasm
By wqmsw - reader
Monday, 4th of March @ 04:26 pm
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