While art viewed inside the confines of a museum’s walls will always have its place, public outdoor art installations are truly inspiring, giving viewers a broader sensory experience. These three-dimensional works are often site-specific, meaning they were created for that particular place. Today, we’ve rounded up ten recent favorites that were each made with the viewer in mind. While some of them were intentionally created for public interaction, others are just meant to be enjoyed from a more distant view.
1. Cathedral Made From 55,000 LED Lights
During this year’s Light Festival in Ghent, Belgium, Luminaire de Cagna created a spectacular projection from 55,000 LED lights. The bright cathedral invited visitors to walk through its immense 91-foot high entrance into a fairy tale gallery, surrounded by light and color. The stunning artwork, a mix between Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, was one of those installations you almost had to see in person to believe.
2. Interactive Electric Cloud
This large-scale interactive installation called Cloud was built by Calgary-based artist Caitlind Brown. Exhibited this past September at Nuit Blanche in Calgary, Cloud was made with more than 5,000 light bulbs, fluorescent bulbs and chain pull strings. Visitors could walk through the rain of strings, switching the lights on and off. This gave the fun illusion that lighting was flashing across the surface of the cloud.
3. 10,000 Swarovski Crystals Make a Cloud
Using 10,000 Swarovski crystals and chicken wire, landscape artists Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot in collaboration with J.P. Paull of Bodega Architecture made a beautiful cloud on the Arbor Terrace at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, Washington D.C. Underneath, a reflecting pond caught the crystals’ light, casting colorful prisms on the water’s surface.
4. Interactive Giant Red Heart
This past Valentine’s Day, if you were at Times Square in New York City, you might have come across a 10-foot tall structure of a giant red heart. Created by Danish architecture firm BIG, it was comprised of 400 transparent LED acrylic tubes that pulsated a bright red when people would interact with another another around it. How? As more people gathered in the square, their footsteps were collected as energy and converted into light. Thus, the huddled crowd made the heart burn brighter. Love!
5. Canopy of Colorful Umbrellas
As part of an art festival called Agitagueda, this past July, a beautiful installation of colorful umbrellas lined two streets in Portugal. Not only did they provide shade to those underneath, the umbrellas seemed magical as they hung in mid-air, suspended by wires. Educational researcher Patricia Almeida took the photos of the installation that later made their way around the web.
6. Horse Sculptures Galloping Up a River
While this year’s ArtPrize, the world’s largest open art competition, had over 1,500 entries, one stood out amongst all the rest. Created by Richard Morse, Stick-to-it-ive-ness: Unwavering pertinacity; perseverance featured nine life-size horses made of dead apple trees making their way up the Grand River. The inspiring installation was made to symbolize the struggle and perseverance we must all go through during difficult situations. The artwork ultimately won 4th place at the art competition.
7. Lit Up Pieces of Paper Caught in a Breeze
London designer Paul Cocksedge created a gorgeous installation resembling pieces of paper caught in a breeze for the Festival of Lights in Lyon, France. Installed in the courtyard of Lyon’s Hotel de Ville, the 25-metre-long sculpture, called Bourrasque, was comprised of 200 A3-sized sheets made from an electrically conductive material that lights up when a current passes through it. Each of these double-sided sheets was individually moulded by hand in London, and then assembled on site.
8. 100,000 LED Lights Float Down Tokyo River
As part of the Tokyo Hotaru festival held this past May, a stunning light display of 100,00 LED lights floated down the Sumida River through central Tokyo. Called “prayer stars,” the lights were made to resemble fireflies, insects that have been long celebrated in Japanese culture. Panasonic created the LEDs, which automatically lit up on contact with water, specifically for this magnificent display.
9. Massive River of 10,000 Lit Up Books
For The Light in Winter festival in Melbourne, Australia, Luzinterruptus took 10,000 discarded books, lit them up with flashlights and then arranged them to look like a massive river overtaking the city. The Spanish art collective’s largest installation yet, Literature vs Traffic even encouraged its visitors to take the books home with them at the end of the art event.
10. 90,000 Plastic Balls Inspired by Wisterias in Monet’s Paintings
For the Le Havre’s Contemporary Art Biennale, Canada-based architects and designers at Claude Cormier + Associés Inc. paid tribute to Monet, the father of Impressionism, by assembling 90,000 plastic balls over the walkway of Le Havre City Hall. Set in five vibrant colors, the installation resembled a pop art piece that simply aimed to delight its visitors.