Integrated artwork is a type of public art that combines the physical elements of an artwork with other structures. Examples of integrated public artwork include street paving, sculptural seating, and artist-designed glazing. In addition, some public artwork is designed to encourage direct interaction with the viewer. In Toronto, another example of an interactive public art piece is the Ontario Science Centre fountain. The water jets in the fountain are used to produce sounds when people block them. The fountain also plays music when people move the water through sound-producing mechanisms. In Detroit, the Heidelberg Project was controversial for decades due to its unorthodox appearance. In 1989, the city of Detroit removed Richard Serra’s minimalist work Tilted Arc after office workers complained about the disruption of their daily routine. Ultimately, the piece was removed, but not until a public court hearing.
Throughout the world, examples of public art are located in public spaces. Those that are in major metropolitan areas are the most notable. One of the best examples of classical public art is the Piazza Della Signoria in Florence. The marble sculpture Marzocco, by Donatello, was installed in this public space in 1416. Although some of the original sculptures have been moved to museums in Italy, several statues remain in place for centuries.
The use of public art has evolved over the last century, encompassing many forms, media, and functions. The emergence of political movements and the proliferation of mass media has increased the role of public art in propaganda. In 1927, Joseph Stalin launched the Socialist Realism art movement in Soviet Russia, where public art became a tool for highlighting the achievements of the Communist regime. The resulting art works are an incredible testament to the power of public art.
One recent example of a long-term, socially responsible public art project is the Diggs project. In the context of gentrification, this project focuses on social responsibility, and it would not have had the same impact in a museum setting. In addition, many artists were challenging the commodity status of art in the late twentieth century, creating participatory, dialogical, and dematerialized works of art. This practice is multi-sensory and has many applications.
Creating public artworks involves many different parties, including local residents, artists, architects, designers, and local civic leaders. Some public art projects involve multiple people – local residents, local arts agencies, and even construction teams. Contemporary public art is difficult to purchase; older works are in private collections. Contemporary works, on the other hand, are often protected by the communities that commissioned them. So, how does one go about creating public art? The first step is to get a contract.
Ultimately, public art is a democratic medium of expression that engages the masses. In the early days of public art, it was intended to compel historical pride and connect communities through accessible culture. However, the definition has expanded to include Street Art, artist-initiated public interventions, and urban renewal-based commissions. Today, public art includes personal works of contemporary artists. Its main purpose is to acknowledge and engage the public’s desire to participate in the creation of art.