What is Public Art?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Public Art : One Thread

I am doing a report and I need a response on What is public art asap. Thanks!

-- Rena Choe (removed by request of poster), May 31, 1999


It really hinges round the concepyt of accessibility ! There are also considerable undertones of a modern classless society being exposed to this new marketing opportunity. aka McArt to go!

-- tensile (crazyongas@hotmail.com), October 05, 1999.

Public Art is art art that accessable to any person. Most Public Art is owned and maintained by either a municipality (If is in a park, etc.) or privately, in the case of corporate collections. An example is the Dubuffet in Houston, that is owned by the Hines Corporation, but is publicly displayed in front of the building. A good book is Going Public or call the Smithsonian Save Outdoor Sculpture #. They have a web site using the keyword search.

-- Erik Stolz (estolz@pr.ci.houston.tx.us), October 07, 1999.

I can't really answer the question just yet. I am supposed to be putting together an exhbition which is looking at exactly that question - "what is public art?" and expanding the boundaries of the definition to include all forms of art in public spaces, both official, unofficial, intentional and accidental. If there is any one out there who is interested in contributing something to the exhibition, please get in touch. Them may be we can answer the question.

-- Miriam Levin (miriamlevin@hotmail.com), November 11, 1999.

I am also doing an exhibition on this topic, if you get any really good information please help me. If i get anything i will let you know too. Thank you Shannon

-- Shannon Gilbert (nikko37@hotmail.com), December 09, 1999.

In public art, a little contraversy is good. Since the real purpose is involving or bringing together the community, what better mecanism than giving everyone something to talk about?

-- peter hagen (xk8@inreach.com), December 30, 1999.

The fact that you are asking this question: What is public art? implies that there is such a thing- a form let us say- "public art." This is an important development, and means that there is something more going on than the placement of "art" in the "public." Thus while the above mentioned Dubuffet scultpure may be within a public place, it is, first and foremost, a sculpture. This is the form which defines it. In the 60's and 70's, large format sculptures were somewhat equivalent with "public art," due to funding criteria. Most notably, there was the NEA's "Art in Public Places" program which purchased large sculptures for parks and corporate plazas. (Keep in mind, however, this did not propose that large sculpture was a form in itself to be called 'public art.' ) After a decade and a half or so, this project was exhausted. Minimalism triumphantly buried itself in banal sameness adorning the glassed International-style towers of paper pushers from sea to shining sea. Critics of "art in Public Places" called it the "turd in a plaza" ethos, and recognized that commissioning sculptures with the same capital and bureaucracy as commissioning monuments was NOT going to create the same fabric of understanding, community and collective memory that a monument entails.

In the wake of that project, public art came into being, from diverse strands of artmaking - notably installation art, "project-based art," activist art, Social Sculpture (Beuys.) These things are postmodern endeavors: progressive RESPONSES to minimalism. In this phase, two things are going on regarding form. Installation becomes the premeir form of public art. OR- as Vito Acconci says, "There is no independant form to public art. It is a branch within architecture."

The unity within across all these forms - the "turd in the plaza" to Christo's wrapped buildings to Wodicko's projections upon the Bunker Hill monument- is the return to PLACEMAKING WITHIN THE CITY to which sculpture played a primary role from ancient times until the late 19th-century.

With the departure from sculpture as the premeir form in placemaking- there arises the need for them term Public Art- to envelop these more diverse practices.

-- Lex Bhagat (icebreaker_NY@hotmail.com), January 11, 2000.

Can you imagine an art that isn't public?

-- Robert Millar (millar0001@aol.com), January 14, 2000.

How would we classify art that is paid for by statute-imposed taxes?

And how can we get the "Public Art Committees" to look at NEW artists, intead of the handful of established artists that they use for big projects?

-- Henry Collins (Hank_Collins@prodigy.net), March 03, 2000.


-- lOUIE pEDROZA (lhpj@earthlink.net), March 08, 2000.

Public art is not about a specific object but rather the feelings, ideas and concepts that penetrate the publics psyche through the tool of art.

-- colleen tracey (colleen_tracey@hotmail.com), March 26, 2000.

What a load of crap gets posted here. I have been collecting the art of itinerant artists in my city this year and posting it at my website, http://www.ilovegainesville.com in each of the neighborhoods where it is found. It's art for the public, by members of the public, whether they got paid for it or not. A lot of the public art people are yammering about here is the trash that college administrators and local magistrates pay for with someone else's money. Hre in Gainesville, FL we have a HUGE pile of yellow metal called "Alachua," but which the locals have dubbed, "French Fries From Hell," that IS outdoors, but it's cloistered behind a lot of buildings and there's no parking. In order to see the beast, you have to park blocks away and hike across the UF campus. I will not be putting a picture of this unaccessable boondoggle at my site. MY criteria for public art is that it's free for viewing, and you can drive past it. My collection WANTS to be seen by the public, not just the purchasing agents and the critics.

So there, Don Marsh, curmugeon-at-large

-- Donald Marsh (ilovegainesville@yahoo.com), April 10, 2000.

Public art is: online and traditional art gallerys,sculptures,grafitti,murals and tatoos.

-- Bret Langford (bretlangford@mindspring.com), May 12, 2000.

I am on the Public Art Committee in my small town of Bainbridge Island, Washington. I believe that public art differs from private art in that it is not "plopped" into place but created with the specific "public" that uses the space in mind. We have had a 1% for Public Art ordinance in place since 1987. This makes sure that 1% of capital improvements are set aside which funds the art pieces we commission. Each project is done with the specific site and the "user group" in mind. For instance we just completed a stree mosiac we call "Beach Quilt" which was created by glass artists Diane Bonciolini and Greg Mesmer (Mesoline Glass). The beach glass was contributed by residents(we all love to beach comb) and the themes were also decided on at public meetings. We really put the "public" into public art in my town.

-- Donna J. Moore (msdjmoore@aol.com), May 25, 2000.

Well, it all depend on the way you look at it. Art is for public, for society. A history of the national history. It is for the public to appreciate. In another way, public art could also be art works that is build in public place or outside a gallery. Thanks.

-- Mohd. Azlan Ahmad (myzaee@tm.net.my), July 05, 2000.

Public art is my car! I am a car artist and have been for 17 years. I create art on cars. It is seen by the public daily as I drive around.

-- Scot Douglas Campbell (extremo@teleport.com), September 17, 2000.

The majority of public art is actually private art in public places. True public art is created by the public for the public, and reflects and questions the social, material, historical and political concerns of that public. In other words the work has to be site specific, to move the work to another site would destroy, or at the very least change its intended meaning. This is a short and simplistic answer to your question, as the term 'site-specific is also a contentious issue.

-- John Reveler (john.reveler@talk21.com), October 03, 2000.

public art is anything in a public place..... its the bringing of new talent and vision into the community were everyone can see.

-- alyson kress (alyson@bigpond.com.au), October 18, 2000.

In Taipei, public art is something big and strange that can get people's attention.

-- Andrew Wang (stwang1@sinamail.com), October 29, 2000.

I think that public art is something to be looked at in a way of expressing and how one is feeling capturing a mood.

-- Andrew John morrison (wordkeeper65@hotmail.com), November 16, 2000.

public art is always hindered by half-baked redevelopment schems

-- (davemurphy30@hotmail.com), December 12, 2000.

Many argue that site-specifity is the touch stone for an art form that calls its self public, I am reminded by an article I once read that stated a true public art nedds to be place-specific.In this distinction a place is a site(location) that is measured as much by community relations as it is with the physical. Public art needs not only to be accessible to all but needs to communicate with the place i.e. with the shared memories and hopes of those who use it most be that to challenge assumptions or to affirm identity relations.

-- jonah whitaker (stjonah@hotmail.com), January 20, 2001.

keith haring wrote, and he was king of public art, that public art is something that evokes an emotion in a set environment that is universal and instinctive. in my opinion public art is anything that is for the people and can contribute to it's surroundings. whether it's a good feeling or a bad feeling as long as a response is evoked by the people. what it comes down to is it doesn't matter what it is. mural, sculpture, a landscaped garden, a billboard add, it's all theoretically an art form that will cause you to feel something. this is art.

-- tiff brown (ninnerpuss2@hotmail.com), February 10, 2001.

Interrested in the question what public art can be I organise projects to stretch the limits of this ongoing dispute. Some results can be seen on www.public-interests.com

-- kie ellens (kellens@xs4all.nl), February 20, 2001.

In NYC we have had art in public spaces that created such strong reactions that it had to be removed. It is probably wrong to label art in public spaces that does not become part of the life of a community, enhancing the neighborhood it inhabits or enriching the lives of those who see it, as public art.

-- bill fullar (bfullar@optonline.net), February 21, 2001.

If one includes the "craft" of architecture as an "art" form, would not Stonehenge, the tombs of Egypt, and St. Peter's be public art? Grafitti on the water towers and subway cars are public, expressive, illicite emotional responses, but do the creators consider themselves "artists?" Were the paintings in the caves in Spain and France done for the public? Is personal jewelry worn in public...art? public art? Where could our taxonomy list castles in the sand? Weeping Jesus on the beach just off the boardwalk aglow with colored lights and a bucket to catch pennies at the base? What about the complexity of the formations of manuvers performed by the Shrine in the local perade? Living in a sealed store-front window with three other "artists" for a month and inter-acting with the "public" is art.

If I poop in the park (shit in square?) and I have an art degree from an accredited school, and I insist that what I've created is art even if I get a hundred (or a thousand) people to agree...is art involved here anywhere? Maybe I would have to smear it about with a brush or shape it into a recogonizable form or cover a monument with it? Would it bring about an emotional response and cause controversity and stimulate discussion if the monument was, say the Viet Nam wall on the mall? Would the public be moved to action if I did this on the day when Rolling Thunder was in town? Could their likely response be considered "critism?" Would the feces have to be scrubbed clean with my (as the artist) blood before the statement could truely be "art?"

Don't know...but I don't really see answers to these questions in the comments above. Still, I guess that every bit of art needs to be defined, catagorized, filed, honed, isolated, and understood. Ever go looking for a forest and keep bumping into a bunch of dammed trees?

-- RRRoberts (Skip@sculptureandimages.com), March 22, 2001.

Not so much an answer, all of the responses seem to answer. But a question that is a piece of the answer. Will Public Art contribute to retail development? I mean I hate to be pragmatic about it all but you guys can create all day, my job is to find a way to pay for it. Any thoughts?

-- Wren Stratton (animal@oknet1.net), April 11, 2001.

art of any kind you can imagine made out of the material "public" and is accessed openly. this web-discussion could be public art if initiated by somebody considering him/herself as an artist. for me the most convincing examples of public art are those, which donīt look like art and therfore get more public. itīs because between public and (contemporary) art there is a wide gap and any artist working in public space should be concious about it. (i donīt mean become populistic, though). most so called public art still is dropped sculptures, they are in public but they donīt "look" at the public. all they say is: hey, look at me. and does sombody?

-- reiner (r.hofmann@odn.de), April 12, 2001.

what is public art? Well, i have to say that is a question that has been puzzled over for a very long period of time one will question if a peice that Rodin created ie: 'David' or 'the Gates of hell' are considered as simply sculpture or public art. whether installation is public art . or a painting that vangoh did and is now hanging in a museum for all to see.in modern day society the ideals of "what is" public art are numerous and very diverse due to the different aspects of society and its veiw on art over all. it is often manipulated and used in somewhat perverse ways where as public art becomes decorative ie: Battery Park City, rather representive of something.

i would say that the true purpose of public art is that it serves a meaningful purpose. one that serves a community or genre. public art is a voice not of solely one man but of a much louder and bigger voice, a voice that is united and formed by an entire body people ie: the work of de la vega, hulbert waldroup,felix gonzalez-torres, victor cervantes. public art should be free and limitless, never contained or imprisoned or institutionalized in some museum or some private property where it's purpose and meaning is lost.

-- sylvia ortiz (ortizsyl@yahoo.com), May 08, 2001.

What is art? Is art art? Is art even real, man? I don't think so. Trippy, isn't it?

-- daniel willey (w illeyd@mailbox.orst.edu), May 30, 2001.



Its about joining the People and achitecture with nature and the surrounding landscape. Be it in a city or woodland landscape it brings peoples thoughts into a place that is always close by but not always seen.( starting a dissertation today on the same subject)

-- Ross Grindley (rossgrindley@hotmail.com), June 02, 2001.

" Public art" is largely seen as large corporate funded sculptures, sculptures in parks, or additions to cities and buildings which the council have commisioned "artists" to produce. Im more interested in how the urban enviroment takes to contemporary artists who use the public enviroment to produce and put out work. These means could be via ways such as flyosting, billboards, or any other advertising means. They could also incorporate vending machines, placing sound into a space, leaving publications in shops, taxis, etc.... This is the form im attempting to take my work and is also the subject of my dissertation. If anyone has anything they have to offer on the subject or any suggestions, please dont hesitate to e-mail me.

-- adrian pitt (superfurrydonutboy@hotmail.com), June 18, 2001.

If you want to know what public art can be, take a look at this website: http://www.art-workz.com. We've produced dozens of public art projects around Houston, including painted and tile mosaic murals, sculpture, and landscape designs.

If you want to know the foundation to public art, take a look at the Egyptian Pyramids, Stone Henge, Mayan Mounds, French Cave Paintings, the body paintings of all indigenous cultures. We are not doing anything profoundly new. In fact, most of the stuff being called public art could as be called public garbage.

The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You know what they say, "one mans trash is another man's treasure." Question is, does it add to the upliftment of humanity or does it make you think?

-- Reginald Adams (reginaldadams@hotmail.com), June 27, 2001.

Public Art is a term of polarization, first. Some will always think it worthless, and some will accept it all, including the scatalogical/performance-oriented comments offered sarcastically above. I was just invited to a panel discussion on a proposed public art project in my community in Indiana, so I did a web search on the topic, with just the impressions I hold from Grad school 6 years ago to guide me. My personal impression of 'public art' leans toward the heavy monumental/minimal stuff from Serra and the rest, but always is quick to accept the smaller Cow pieces in Chicago and other similar work. Size is irrelevant, place is the determinant, though I think it is still just a category term with a utilitarian nature. The term by itself cannot make unreadable work any better, nor lend a sense of grandeur to the mundane. Any artist who has pursued a living from the gift knows that some work is for general consumption, some is for specific clients and some is SOS (Skat On a Stick). Public work can be any one of these, depending on where the artist's head is. Sometimes work is directly responsive to a site, other times it clears space in the artist's studio, still other times it is rendered to close the deal and move on.

-- P. Titzer (res00x2e@gte.net), July 24, 2001.

Weīre starting a public art collective in Helsinki,Finland, and we would be interested in a on-going discussion about "public art"as we are all professional artists who are interested in all that is said about the subject..and we think itīs relative to the culture that the art-piece is created/focused for.

-- Asko Sutinen (zeref99@hotmail.com), August 06, 2001.

I too am attempting (shall we say) to produce a 12,000 report on the role and use of public art as part of my final year at University in Wales (UK). If anyone has any useful information regarding public art in the UK or any contacts they know of I would be very grateful....my studies so far lead me to think that in todays society public art although intended initially for the community in which it is situated often is used by the authorities who commission it to attract investment into an area or at least raise that areas profile in some way.

-- Kate Williams (kittylizbrum@yahoo.co.uk), August 10, 2001.

I find very exiting all this point of views. I am in Sydney at moment and finding how this city changed with all the new public art work around from instalations to sculptures and really make ours perseption of art open. Im a ceramic artist and at moment preparing a project with children in Brasil where I am from. With this project I have the intention to involve the community and find their voice throgth the art work. That would be a Mural,sculpture or other ideia. Any artist that could help with "How to find a method of work?" thanks.

-- Karlos Gomes (kargo64@hotmail.com), August 21, 2001.

Public art seems to be about compromises!

-- Anna Richardson (annamoomin@hotmail.com), October 23, 2001.

It may be a cliche, but I don't really believe it is accessable to definition. Public art is not about a definition, it's about the overlooked impression that a place invokes in an individual.

-- Lorentia Raybun (heylo02@hotmail.com), October 28, 2001.

Art in general is interpeted to be what ever is determined by the culture in which it is found. Public art is all art that is available to the public.

-- Bruce Christensen (BruceChristensen@mail.weber.edu), October 31, 2001.

art itself is dificult to define. but once you do, put it in public and that's public art. for example, this written document is on a publicly accessable site. if i were to call this art,.. it would be public art. i suppose if you were talking about social norms, public art would be the statues and fountains outside, the pictures on the walls of any public building, and all the art in public museums. if you want my personal oppinion as to what public art is,.. it could be anything done in the name of art viewable in public. for example, most people wouldn't consider a carving in a tree, peeing you name in the snow, trimming your hedges, vandalized street signs, or a deer carcus on the side of the road public art,.. but i do.

-- Matt Tower (matt_tower@hotmail.com), November 08, 2001.

public art provides the opportunity for the interaction of images, sculptures or instalations to those who are not exposed to artistic concepts. giving art a wider audiance!

-- garretmcgoldrick (garretmcgoldrick@hotmail.com), November 16, 2001.

i think this public art is a bitch cause ya can't find crap about it...... ha u all suck

-- iain andrews (ian_rulz@hotmail.com), December 09, 2001.

Hi, I am posting to clear up the previous post as it is a atempt of a frind by the name of DAVID Fleming to annoy me. he is a friend at my school. Unfortunatly he is a bit unko in the head and can do some stupid things such as this. But to clear all up I have nothing against Public Art and am just studying it so there thanx all reading this.

-- Iain William Andrews (iain_rulz@yahoo.com), December 10, 2001.

Public art in todays context is purchased by large companies with loads of cash to fill up space in the front of there large impressive building.The pieces are ment to offend none,look pretty and question nothing.To some extent making Antony Gorrmly a national hero.

-- joe.drew (drewjoey@hotmail.com), December 27, 2001.


-- Reginald Adams (reginaldadams@hotmail.com), January 05, 2002.

Public art also includes advertisments!! Billboards, signs, anything that is in view of the public and is created with the public in mind.

-- Valerie Nicholson (SycoAngel11@aol.com), April 22, 2003.

Could an answer be based in our economically driven times on exchange. Traditionally art became an exchange between artist and (wealthy) patron. When modern art rallied against commerce it came off the walls and out of the white cube. An exchange developed between the public artist and community which today is most likely still mediated by commerce to varying degrees. In a sense though the community becomes complicit with the powerful decision makers by allowing public artists to speak for them in equally powerful ways. Art in the right place can celebrate, commemerate, and protest in a significant way and be a valuable exchange for all.

-- memberofthepublic (expandedart@bigpond.com.au), April 27, 2003.


-- ivan lozano (ivan@mocah.org), May 12, 2004.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ