The public spaces at Rockefeller Center have always been one of the city's most prominent stages for contemporary art, but a brand new exhibition on the property, called Frieze Sculpture, is perhaps the most ambitious venture to date. Launched in conjunction with next week's Frieze Art Fair on Randall's Island (and remaining in place through the end of June), the show features 20 sculptures and installations by 14 international artists. The pieces are spread throughout the main outdoor plaza and in the lobbies of each of the historic, art deco buildings.

The exhibition is curated by Brett Littman, the newish director of Astoria's Noguchi Museum, and borrows work from many of the city's premiere art galleries, including Gagosian, Pace, Jack Shainman, and White Cube. The showstopper here is Jauma Plensa's "Behind the Walls," a giant, oddly elongated head looming over Fifth Avenue, both eyes covered by disembodied hands as if it can't bear to look at what the world has become.

Other instant favorites of the show include Paulo Nazareth's "Blacks In the Pool" series, comprised of four propped-up cutouts of black activist icons like Rosa Parks and Tommie Smith. You'll also find Nick Cave's gramophone-looking speaker sealed with a clenched fist; the red and blue comic-strip word balloons by Hank Willis Thomas; and Jose Davila's tension-filled "Joint Effort," the titular rock held tightly in place by industrial red belts. I also really loved the heavy, ragged jute sack "flags" installed by Ibrahim Mahama around the perimeter of the ice skating rink, where usually we see festive or patriotic symbols on display.

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(Scott Lynch / Gothamist)


Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center will be on view throughout the complex through June 28th. There's an app you can download for the show, complete with an audio guide, or get a map of all the works here.