Monday, September 27, 2010

Whose Public Art Is It?

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor
The placing of works of art in public settings has long been a popular way to introduce people to a variety of artistic techniques and visions. Art that might have been seen only in museums could now be enjoyed in parks and plazas and public buildings.
The city of Chicago has long had an excellent public art program, with examples ranging from Picasso’s fifty- foot sculpture at the Civic Center to the more recent minimal masterpiece, Cloud Gate, by Anish Kapoor.

Public art as a form of government subsidy has become so successful that there are now over 350 public art programs around the country.

However, the open and progressive nature of the movement has created a backlash in many communities. Under the banner of diversity, budget constraints, local history or political correctness, local art boards are placing such prerequisites on artists that their unique visions become compromised.

Chicago Picasso by Pablo Picasso
photo: SOM/Ezra Stoller
Having, at some point, offended a few vocal citizens, public art programs have chosen or been ordered to play it safe. Thus, in an effort to appeal to the most people, they often select safe, conservative and family-friendly art. Sadly, the unwritten message received by visionary artists becomes “do not apply!”

The answer to this problem should be that there is enough public art to please everyone, but that is being unrealistic. I’m sure there are still people in Chicago who absolutely hate Picasso’s monumental cubist sculpture.

A better solution might be to cultivate as many visionary citizens as there are visionary artists. 


SOiNTOiT said...

ha! I liked your conclusion.

When there is public art funded by the public, we all want to put our two cents in....which is what art engenders as a byproduct of being viewed anyway...our reaction...

Speaking of cultivation, have you heard of art-o-mat? getting art out to the masses is its basic raison d'etre. (There's more about art-o-mat on my blog....don't mean to sound spammy...its a cool way to put art in the publics hands)

anyway...glad I happened upon you. I'm following. :) Pam

Denis Gaston said...

Thanks for commenting Pam.
I gave some thought to the art-o-mat project, but passed. A photographer friend in Tampa has made some art-o-mat sales.
Love your "The Garden" piece.