After four months of renovations, The Museum of Modern Art has reopened — this is exciting news for art lovers, except, of course, for that pesky $25 admission fee.
Here’s a friendly reminder that there is a lot of art near the Midtown museum that is free and open to everyone, from the High Line’s “Brick House” sculpture by Simone Leigh to Robert Indiana’s LOVE statue, and countless works in public parks (not to mention all the street art one passes by on just about every block.)
As for the really famous artists that many are after, the streets are full of their works too. Here are some of the biggest names to see for free. Just be sure to keep your head up while you walk.
Keith Haring – There are actually several Haring works to see throughout Manhattan. There’s a 1989 statue at St. Marks Place in the East Village, which is a green figure in Haring’s trademark style.
A 1987 aquatic-themed mural in the West Village at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center adorns a long wall near the outdoor pool. Haring’s “Crack is Wack” mural from 1986 is at East 128th Street and Harlem River Drive, though it’s temporarily unavailable for viewing until the Parks Department finishes nearby construction work this fall.
Banksy – The anonymous, anti-establishment artist still has a “Hammer Boy” figure on a building wall on the Upper West Side on West 79th Street just east of Broadway. It’s left over from his 2013 stay in the city, when he did one work every day in October 2013. The silhouette, which is of a boy about to hit a fire hydrant with a big hammer, is even protected behind Plexiglass, so hopefully it will be around for a while.
Pablo Picasso — In the Silver Towers apartment complex on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, there is an enlarged version of a Picasso bust from 1934 called “Bust of Sylvette.” Famed architect I.M. Pei, who designed the apartment complex, was behind the idea to create the 1967 Picasso enlargement, which is 36 feet tall.
Roy Lichtenstein – The Times Square subway station may not be the ideal place to stop and smell the roses, but there are actually several artworks featured throughout the station, including a big mural by Lichtenstein. The artist grew up in Manhattan and was part of the Pop Art movement in the 1960s. He gifted this piece, “Times Square Mural,” which was designed in the early 1990s, to the people of New York. It features his trademark comics style and pop culture references. There is a bonus Lichtenstein mural nearby in the lobby of the building at 787 Seventh Ave., between 51st and 52 Streets. The large 1986 piece is called “Mural with Blue Brushstroke.”
Chuck Close – When the Second Avenue Subway finally opened in 2017, it brought three new stations to the Upper East Side, and new artworks in each of them. The 86th Street station features 12 works by Chuck Close, collectively called “Subway Portraits.” There are 10 done in mosaics and two in ceramic tiles, and include stunningly lifelike portraits of artists, including Lou Reed, Philip Glass, Kara Walker and a self-portrait. Many of the works are inside the station, as is the Lichtenstein mural, and may require the price of a subway ride, but it still beats museum prices, and if you’re passing through anyway, the portraits are worth taking a moment to stop and browse.