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3 Tutorials that teach Public Art
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Public Art

Public Art

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will present a few examples of Public Art.

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Tutorial

An overview of public art.

Video Transcription

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Hello I'd like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell. And today's lesson is about public art. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as often as you feel is necessary. And as soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives or the things you're going to learn today are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you'll be able to identify and define today's key terms, describe the philosophy behind public art, and identify examples of public art. Key terms as always are listed in yellow throughout the lesson. First key term is Percent for Art; a building development program that funds public art. Public art; works of art installed in the public domain. New genre public art; experimental art practices, and placemaking; the design and administration of public spaces that promote community.

The big idea for today, is that public art can refer to any work of art in public space. Public art is often used to create a sense of place in a spot that seems to lack individuality. And the art and architecture that we're looking at today dates from 1981 to 2000. And today we'll be traveling to New York City, Washington DC, and Houston, Texas.

So one of the great things about living in large urban areas is the availability to experience and appreciate public works of art. Public art can refer to any work of art in public space, but generally refers to percent for art programs, beautification programs, and other attempts to alleviate the bleakness of the urban landscape resulting from modernist architecture and urban design.

Now place making as it is loosely known, is a process where public works of art are placed in a location in order to create a sense of identity or individuality in that place that didn't exist before. And because of this, there's an idea of a communal element to these types of artworks that has arisen in the last several decades, as well as an idea that they're made to benefit the community.

Now, that doesn't mean these works are received with no controversy. Even the best intentions may go unrealized, depending upon the experience of the public. Now, the tilted arc that was placed in the Foley Federal Plaza Manhattan was constructed in 1981, but only lasted eight years. It was eventually dismantled after some sizable controversy about its effect on the population that used the public space.

The sculpture literally bisected the plaza. And in Richard Serra's attempts to create an experience in which passers by would interact with the sculpture, he also inadvertently created an experience of isolation and alienation as people felt cut off from each other.

Now, controversy also surrounded the construction of the now world famous Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. Now the design is minimalistic, it's composed of two monumental slabs of polished gabbro, or black granite, with names of victims of the Vietnam War inscribed into them. And they're arranged in a v shape, like two massive arms embracing the visitors.

Now for those fortunate enough to visit it, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. So where's the controversy? Well, the final design for the monument was chosen based on a blind contest where only design submissions were considered. Not the names or backgrounds of the individual designers.

Now the winning design was by Mya Lin, an undergraduate student at Yale University, and a Chinese American. And there was the controversy. Despite the beauty and simplicity of design, opponents objected to her design based solely on her heritage. Now fortunately cooler heads prevailed, and the memorial remains in Washington DC as one of the most visited works of art in the United States.

Now, Rick Lowe's Project Row Houses are type of new genre public art. Now, new genre public art is made through a complex process of interaction with the public with the idea in goal that the finished product will benefit the community in some way. Now, Rick Lowe cam up with the idea for the row houses when he was approached by a group of high school students about creating a solution to the problems facing the community, rather than create a work of art to bring attention to a problem everybody was already aware of.

So the solution became Project Row Houses, which serves the dual function of providing space for artists to use, as well as low income housing for poor families. So that brings us to the end of this lesson. Let's take a look at our objectives again to see if we met them.

Now that you've seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms? Can you describe the philosophy behind public art? And can you identify examples of public art?

And once again the big idea for today, is that public are can refer to any work of art in public space. Public art is often used to create a sense of place in a spot that seems to lack individuality. And there you go. Thank you very much for joining me today. I'll see you next time.

Notes on "Public Art"

Key Terms

Percent for Art

A building development program that funds public art.

Public Art

Works of art installed in the public domain.

New Genre Public Art

Experimental art practices.

Placemaking

The design and administration of public spaces that promote community.

Citations


TERMS TO KNOW
  • Percent for Art

    A building development program that funds public art.

  • Public Art

    Works of art installed in the public domain.

  • New Genre Public Art

    Experimental art practices.

  • Placemaking

    The design and administration of public spaces that promote community.