Public art is the practice of creating and displaying works of art that are accessible to everyone. It encompasses a variety of media including sculpture, painting and installation. It is usually commissioned by a city or town and is generally meant to enhance the environment and engage people.
There are a number of benefits of having public art installed in a city or town, including improving street safety, attracting tourists, providing jobs and combating social isolation and anxiety. Research has shown that public art can also be beneficial to local communities and their residents, as it builds community engagement, encourages participation and helps people form a sense of identity and place.
A recent survey found that people living in a city with a strong public art presence felt more engaged and happy, were less likely to be lonely, and had more access to cultural resources than their counterparts. This is because people have more opportunities to interact with artists, who may be able to help them better understand their local communities and the issues that impact them.
In addition to the visual arts, public art can also include landscape and architectural interventions. This type of work can be as simple as a terrazzo floor or as complex as a sculpture made from etched glass.
Historically, artists and architects have sought to use public space as a way to display their artwork. During the 20th century, this became increasingly common with works by modern masters such as Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin and Louise Bourgeois.
Although some of these pieces have been controversial, many others, especially in more recent times, have been embraced by the public and are viewed as part of a city’s artistic heritage. These include Seward Johnson’s Forever Marilyn, a kitsch statue of the actress that is now a popular tourist attraction in Chicago, and Keith Haring’s Crack is Wack mural in New York.
Another popular example of controversial public art is Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, a minimalist sculptural installation in Detroit, Michigan, that was removed from the Foley Square in 1989 after office workers complained that it disrupted their daily routine.
One of the most interesting examples of this is Katharina Fritsch’s electric-blue bird positioned at Trafalgar Square in London, which was unveiled last week. It is an innovative approach to reinterpreting traditional statues and monuments, challenging preconceptions about what public art can be.
A similar concept was used by artists like rafa esparza and Cassils in the skywriting campaign “In Plain Sight.” These artists used their own creativity to place messages above 80 ICE detention facilities, immigration courthouses and processing centers in the U.S. The messages included words from Hank Willis Thomas, Emory Douglas, Dread Scott and Titus Kaphar.
Whether it’s a controversial artwork or a popular one, the fact is that people love art. That’s why we can expect to see a lot of it in the future. As the field of public art continues to evolve, we’ll continue to see some amazing examples.