Socrates Sculpture Park was founded in 1986 by visionary sculptor Mark di Suvero as a community engaged, accessible arts space dedicated to supporting artists in the production and presentation of public artworks.
Socrates is now a New York City public park and significant cultural anchor in Queens exhibiting topical contemporary public art that intimately engages our five-acre waterfront landscape and diverse audiences. The Park’s visual arts programming presents emerging, mid-career, and internationally renowned artists by offering an open platform for public art and encouraging unfettered ambition in scale and subject matter.
Since the Park’s inception, the vast majority of artworks exhibited at the Park have been commissioned and built on-site in our outdoor artist studio space. This gives our visitors the unique opportunity to witness the creative and often labor-intensive art-making process. The Park also remains open to the public during exhibition installation and de-installation.
Socrates does not have a permanent collection and all artworks are temporarily on view. A searchable archive of every Socrates exhibition is available HERE and our archive of over 1,000 participating artists is available HERE. Additionally, you can browse our digital library of exhibition catalogs and publications HERE>>.
Each year the Park presents four major visual arts initiatives: The Spring/Summer Exhibition; The Socrates Annual Fellowship & Exhibition; The Folly/Function Architectural & Design Competition in Partnership with The Architectural League of New York; & The Broadway Billboard Series.
Admission to the Park and all of our exhibitions is always FREE.
THE SPRING/SUMMER EXHIBITION
Nari Ward, Apollo/Poll, 2017. Photo: Nicholas Knight Studio
Every year, the Park engages with internationally recognized artists for our Spring/Summer Exhibition. In recent years, we have commissioned major projects from acclaimed artists including Virginia Overton, Nari Ward, Agnes Denes, and Meg Webster.
THE SOCRATES ANNUAL
Sable Elyse Smith, And Here is a List of Names, 2016. Photo: Nate Dorr
The Socrates Annual is the culminating exhibition of The Socrates Annual Fellowship (formerly known as the Emerging Artist Fellowship & Exhibition).
Every year, fifteen artists are selected for The Socrates Annual Fellowship through a competitive open-call application process. Artists including Sable Elyse Smith (2016), David Brooks (2009), Hank Willis Thomas (2006), Orly Genger (2004), and Sanford Biggers (2001) have participated in the fellowship program since it was formalized in 2000.
Fellows are each awarded a production stipend, access to the Park’s outdoor artist studio, and the technical/administrative support needed to realize ambitious public art projects. The Fellowship traditionally culminates in the fall with The Socrates Annual exhibition, which showcases diverse artistic approaches, mediums, and subject matters that comprise a compelling survey of contemporary art practices.
Toshihiro Oki architect p.c., tree wood, 2013.
Folly/Function is the Park’s annual architectural and design competition in partnership with The Architectural League of New York. The program launched in 2012 to investigate the intersection between sculpture and architecture through the conceptual framework of “follies”— temporary structures that intentionally serve no practical purpose. The program has evolved to fuse form with utility to address structural needs within the Park.
Winners of the Folly/Function competition are awarded a production grant, access to the Park’s outdoor studio, and support from Socrates and The League to realize their project. Finished Folly/Function projects traditionally go on view in the summer.
Previous winning proposals:
Wangechi Mutu, Sunset Satire, 2013.
Since 1999, Socrates has activated the billboard above the main entrance to the Park with an ongoing series of artworks commissioned from established artists including John Giorno, Douglas Gordon, Michael Joo, Los Angeles Urban Rangers, Wangechi Mutu, Chitra Ganesh, and Duke Riley. In response to the 2016 presidential election, Socrates held an open-call competition for the Broadway Billboard on the topics of democracy and American identity. The winning proposals were Welcome by Guillaume Légaré and Word on the Street: Love Not Hatred by Amy Khoshbin & Anne Carson.