Art gone wild: The best places to see sculptures outdoors

CNN  — 

Some of the most popular outdoor works of the last few decades – James Turrell’s famous Skyspaces, Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty,” Antony Gormley’s standing figures, Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral works in nature – have shown how a fresh setting can make for a perspective-altering and exhilarating experience.

We often view art in white cube spaces and neoclassical museums. But once a work of art is placed outdoors – whether in a busy city or the open countryside – it’s given new meaning.

Here are a few of the best places to view outdoor art today.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

"Iron Tree" (2013) by Ai Weiwei at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Considered by some to be the most beautiful sculpture park in the world, Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the north of England has shown large-scale works by Bill Viola, KAWS, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, David Nash and Andy Goldsworthy.

This year the park celebrates its 40th anniversary, marking four decades at the forefront of staging outdoor exhibitions. In a year of programmed events there will be exhibitions of work by seminal British sculptor Tony Cragg, as well as the Chilean polymath Alfredo Jaar.

They will also host a 40-hour party, allowing visitors to view the park at night, an exhibition of work from the British Arts Council collection, and an intervention by Haroon Mira at the park’s James Turrell Skyspace.

Domaine du Muy

"Narcissus Garden" (1966-2011) by Yayoi Kusama at Domaine du Muy

In 2016, the Parisian Galerie Mitterrand opened the Domaine du Muy in the south of France. The permanent installation, which includes works from Sol LeWitt, Dan Graham, and Yayoi Kusama to Claudia Comte, Liam Gillick, and Carsten Höller, is the brainchild of Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand and his son, Edward, and spans 10 hectares of forest.

The latest addition to the park, a house by architect and designer India Mahdavi, is set to be completed this year.

“My goal here, in subverting or appropriating the rustic aspect of this Provençal house, was to anchor it in the landscape in a rather unusual fashion, enabling it to reflect its surroundings in a solar, mineral and graphic manner,” Mahdavi explained in a press release. “We chose to position the house within the landscape, by excavating into the earth, in order to create a gallery, one that may be likened to a kind of indoor patio, devoted to freshness and contemplation.”

Not Vital Foundation

"Stage" (2011) by Not Vital at the Not Vital Foundation

Swiss artist Not Vital’s work combines innovative techniques and an innate connection with nature.

Working with both sculpture and installation, Vital creates striking and emotive art that require ingenuity and technical skill to realize. From works carved from ice caves of a Chilean island to works that rise out of the hillside at a press of a button, his scope is vast.

Vital has taken his success as an artist and used it to create the Not Vital Foundation, which includes a stunning sculpture park. Situated in the village of Sent in his native Switzerland, the park is on the grounds of a house that was never built. The finished gardens provide the perfect backdrop for monumental works placed in – and against – the dramatic scenery.

Public Art Fund in Brooklyn Bridge Park

"Descension" (2014) by Anish Kapoor

Earlier this month, Anish Kapoor’s “Descension” (2014) was unveiled in New York.

The work, commissioned by New York’s Public Art Fund, sits outside 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park, stark reminder that although you are in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world, you are also amid nature.

“Descension” is essentially a 26-foot-wide whirlpool in the middle of the city. Thirty thousand gallons of water rush deep into the ground to great visual and aural effect, creating a welcome break from the everyday grind.