Credit: Spoonbridge and Cherry (c) Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen; Photo courtesy of Walker Art Center

America has always liked its public sculpture big. Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s (Princeton Architectural Press; $45), by Jonathan D. Lippincott, takes a close look at how 30 postwar artists were able to realize their grandest ambitions. Their work can be found across the country, from Minneapolis (Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden) to Marfa, Texas (Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum at the Chinati Foundation). Below, three more epic creations that are worth the trip.

Where to View

New York City: Broken Obelisk, by Barnett Newman (MoMA).
Scottsdale, Arizona:
Atmosphere and Environment XIII, by Louise Nevelson (Civic Center Mall).
Los Angeles:
Smoke, by Tony Smith (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

With more than 128,000 pieces of art in their encyclopedic collection including David Hockney and Vincent Van Gogh, it can be a task navigating a day at LACMA. After stopping for obligatory selfies in front of Chris Burden’s iconic cast iron street lamps known as Urban Light, be sure to check out the artist’s lesser-known but equally impressive Metropolis II, where every hour, approximately 1,000 toy cars race through the dense network of buildings, giving you a playful simulation of what it’s like to deal with L.A. traffic on a daily basis.

Museum of Modern Art, New York

The hullabaloo over MoMA's $600 million makeover in 2005 (and $20 admission fee) has overshadowed how impressive its collection truly is. This smartly reimagined space offers more room for exhibitions, as well as unexpected internal vistas between floors that are better able to showcase large contemporary installations. See Warhol's Gold Marilyn, Picasso's mold-breaking Demoiselles d'Avignon, a cluster of Brancusi sculptures, plus photographs and pencil drawings by the modern master—as well as Claes Oldenburg's surprisingly creepy Giant Soft Fan, which induces the same kind of sensory schizophrenia as Meret Oppenheim's fur-covered cup. Don't neglect the outdoor treasures in the Sculpture Garden, an eclectic mix that includes works by Scott Burton, Giacometti, and even an original Guimard-designed Paris metro entrance sign.

Admission: $20 adults, $16 seniors, free for children 16 and under. Closed Tues.

Civic Center Mall