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Beyond Serra

A critic’s five favorite public artworks, all on view for free.

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‘POTENTIAL STORE FRONTS’
By Beth Campbell
125 Maiden Lane; Public Art Fund
Looks like a shop window’s repeating reflections; in fact, everything you see is real. It’s a trip into simulacra and the American Dream of opening a shop and having your fortune multiply. Or, in this case, not.


‘OBELISCO TRANSPORTABLE’
By Damián Ortega
Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park; Public Art Fund
A playful poke at weighty art like Serra’s, in the form of a funny little obelisk on wheels. It’s also a wry comment on the imperialistic habit of invading other countries, toppling their statues, then commemorating those countries with another statue.


‘AIR GETS INTO EVERYTHING EVEN NOTHING & GET UP GIRL A SUN IS RUNNING THE WORLD’
By Ugo Rondinone
2 West Street; Creative Time
Ghostly aluminum casts of two 2,000-year-old Italian olive trees make you think of nature next to architecture. But there’s also something compellingly noble about these shells: Eyes that looked upon them likely looked upon Caesar.


‘GROUP OF FOUR TREES’
By Jean Dubuffet
1 Chase Manhattan Plaza; Chase Manhattan
A perfect organic counterpart to the pure geometry of the nearby buildings. The trees seem to be made of super-enlarged cells, wavy like a hologram going in and out of focus.


‘CONJOINED’/‘DEFUNCT’/‘ERRATIC’
By Roxy Paine
In Madison Square Park; Madison Square Park Conservancy
Three more trees: Roxy Paine’s fantastic stainless-steel arbor is so real that people bask in its fakeness. Seurat’s La Grande Jatte meets the Tin Man meets The Matrix.


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