Besides the soaring skyscrapers, heritage buildings and bustling markets, Singapore is home to an impressive amount of public art, much of which is by world-famous artists and seriously expensive. If you know where to look you’ll find work by the likes of surrealist Salvador Dalí, American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, and many more. Grab a bike, or get your walking shoes on, and let’s go!
1. Large Reclining Figure by Henry Moore
This piece in the CBD by British artist Henry Moore might be the most valuable of all of Singapore’s public art. According to auction house Christie’s, a similar but smaller ‘Reclining Figure’ sold for more than $40 million in 2016. This larger version arrived in Singapore in 1984 thanks to American architect I.M. Pei who designed the OCBC building in the late 1970s. Being a fan of Moore’s work, he asked him to create a sculpture for the building’s forecourt. At over 10 metres long, it’s one of the largest works Moore ever created. The sculpture’s pose also resonates with many of us living in the island’s unforgiving heat.
OCBC Centre, 65 Chulia Street, 049513
2. Tall Tree In The Eye by Anish Kapoor
If you haven’t spent time looking at your distorted reflection in these polished orbs, you haven’t lived. This showstopper by acclaimed British artist Anish Kapoor comprises 29 polished stainless steel spheres that appear to float upwards. Measuring eight metres tall and weighing over six tonnes, this sculpture was installed in 2013 as part of a $12 million budget for three works of public art. Not just a fancy kaleidoscopic House of Mirrors, according to auctioneer Sotheby’s, a single large orb by Kappor, two metres in diameter, sold for $3.3 million in 2011.
Ocean Financial Centre, 10 Collyer Quay, 049315
3. Let’s Go To A Paradise Of Glorious Tulips by Yayoi Kusama
Chances are you’ve frequented Orchard Central for a spot of shopping, but did you know there’s a whole world of wonder located on this mall’s 11th and 12th levels? Here you’ll find a cute rooftop garden featuring the mixed-media art installation, ‘Let’s Go to a Paradise of Glorious Tulips’ by Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. The piece, featuring a girl in a garden with flowers and animals, has been here for over a decade nestled amidst the greenery that comes complete with a waterfall and fish pond.
Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, 238896
4. Planet by Marc Quinn
It’s hard to miss this 10-metre-long, three-metre-tall sleeping baby hovering above the field at Gardens by the Bay. Seemingly suspended above the ground, this piece was created in 2008 and inspired by Marc Quinn’s own son, Lucas. The giant scale of this sculpture titled ‘Planet’ is balanced at just one point where it’s connected to the earth and questions the vulnerability and fragility of life. “To me, ‘Planet’ is a paradox – overwhelmingly big, yet also an image of vulnerability,” said Quinn upon its unveiling. “It’s both a reflection of ourselves and the earth upon which we live.” Planet was commissioned for the UK, before making a debut in Musée Oceanographique in Monaco, and proceeding to settle in Singapore.
31 Marina Park Singapore, 019191
5. Six Brushstrokes by Roy Lichtenstein
Head to Millenia Walk and you’ll find one of the last works by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. ‘Six Brushstrokes’ consists of six aluminium sculptures which bring Chinese and Western culture together. The pieces, which were commissioned explicitly for the space, are described as “calligraphic renditions of nature, land and seascapes.” They were flown to Singapore just months before Roy’s last days in 1997.
Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, 039596
6. Homage to Newton by Salvador Dali
This unique sculpture by Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali is a tribute to 17th century English physicist and man who discovered gravity, Sir Isaac Newton. Look closely and you’ll see a ball at the centre, suspended off the right-hand side of the statue, which represents a falling apple. The figure, located at UOB Plaza, is almost skeletal and there’s a hole in its head the size of a cannonball. While Dali had a dark sense of humour, he’s definitely the one having the last laugh as the piece is rumoured to be worth over a whopping one million dollars.
UOB Plaza, 80 Raffles Place, 048624
7. Mother And Children by Ng Eng Teng
Nicknamed “The Grandfather of Singapore Sculpture”, Dr Ng Eng Teng is acclaimed for his innovative sculptures and chances are you’ve spotted his work in Changi Airport or on Orchard Road. This 3.5 metre-tall bronze sculpture featuring a mother holding her child was received by National Gallery Singapore in November 2019. It was the last monumental work produced by Eng Teng before his death in 2001. Today ‘Mother and Children’ stands proudly in front of the gallery, and has become an important part of the building’s façade that faces the Padang.
National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road, 178957