What is public art? - Association for Public Art (2024)

Public art is a reflection of how we see the world – the artist’s response to our time and place combined with our own sense of who we are.

Public art is not an art “form.” Its size can be huge or small.It can tower fifty feet high or call attention to the paving beneath your feet. Its shape can be abstract or realistic (or both), and it may be cast, carved, built, assembled, or painted. It can be site-specific or stand in contrast to its surroundings. What distinguishes public art is the unique association of how it is made, where it is, and what it means. Public art can express community values, enhance our environment, transform a landscape, heighten our awareness, or question our assumptions. Placed in public sites, this art is there for everyone, a form of collective community expression. Public art is a reflection of how we see the world – the artist’s response to our time and place combined with our own sense of who we are.

Who is the “public” for public art?

In a diverse society, all art cannot appeal to all people, nor should it be expected to do so. Art attracts attention; that is what it is supposed to do. Is it any wonder, then, that public art causes controversy? Varied popular opinion is inevitable, and it is a healthy sign that the public environment is acknowledged rather than ignored. To some degree, every public art project is an interactive process involving artists, architects, design professionals, community residents, civic leaders, politicians, approval agencies, funding agencies, and construction teams. The challenge of this communal process is to enhance rather than limit the artist’s involvement.

What is public art? - Association for Public Art (1)

What is the “art” of public art?

As our society and its modes of expression evolve, so will our definitions of public art. Materials and methods change to reflect our contemporary culture. The process, guided by professional expertise and public involvement, should seek out the most imaginative and productive affinity between artist and community. Likewise, artists must bring to the work their artistic integrity, creativity, and skill. What is needed is a commitment to invention, boldness, and cooperation – not compromise.

Why public art?

Public art is a part of our public history, part of our evolving culture and our collective memory. It reflects and reveals our society and adds meaning to our cities. As artists respond to our times, they reflect their inner vision to the outside world, and they create a chronicle of our public experience.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

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What is public art? - Association for Public Art (2024)


What is public art answers? ›

The term public art refers to a specific art genre with its own professional and critical discourse. It represents art in any media whose form, function and meaning are created for the general public through a public process. Public art is accessible original art.

What is the main idea of public art? ›

Public art can express community values, enhance our environment, transform a landscape, heighten our awareness, or question our assumptions. Placed in public sites, this art is there for everyone, a form of collective community expression.

What is public art quizlet? ›

artistic activity based in community setting. public art. requires collaborative work and engages the services of different types of people.

What is public art Why is public art important? ›

Public art provides everyone in the community direct and on- going encounters with art. It engages social interaction—both during the selection process and following installation. And, an artwork can lead the viewer toward self-reflection and awareness. Social Value and Collaboration.

How does public art work? ›

It is commissioned by a very public process, in which the community has a clear and defined role in selecting the artist, the site, and the artwork. Public money funds the creation of the art piece, especially in the case of percent-for-art ordinances.

What is the summary of public art? ›

Public art is regarded as the artistic expression of a contemporary art practitioner presented within the public arena, outside the traditional gallery system, where it is accessible to a broad audience. Contemporary public art practice involves a diverse range of activities and outcomes.

Who owns public art? ›

Who owns the copyright for a public artwork? The artist retains all rights under the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 USC Section 101) as the sole author of the work for the duration of the copyright. The duration of copyright in the United States is currently the life of the author, plus 70 years.

What are three functions of public art? ›

Public Art within a community has cultural, social, and economic value. It's a reflection of our society and part of the public history and evolving culture within an area. Not only does it add meaning to spaces it allows communities to exhibit their uniqueness.

How is public art chosen? ›

Appointing a Selection Committee

The artist or art work may be selected by an established public art committee; by a board or commission with defined roles; or by an ad hoc review committee that has been put together for the sole purpose of selecting the artist and approving the work.

What is public art in your own words? ›

WHAT IS PUBLIC ART? Simply put public art is art in public spaces. The term “public art” may conjure images of historic bronze statues of a soldier on horseback in a park. Today, public art can take a wide range of forms, sizes, and scales—and can be temporary or permanent.

What is public art? ›

The term public art refers to art that is in the public realm, regardless of whether it is situated on public or private property or whether it has been purchased with public or private money.

What is public art examples? ›

Sometimes the art can be practical, integrated within stormwater management systems for example, or a health-related public space. But it doesn't even have to be visual art. Citywide sings are public art, as are dance performances in national parks, or orchestras playing in local bars.

What is the power of public art? ›

Public art has the power to transform environments, uplifting and bringing communities together, especially spaces that have been overlooked or neglected.

What is the role of public art in the future? ›

A Shifting Future

“Public art provides access to the arts and gives voice to artists who bring social issues to the forefront. Public interest in the arts, as we know it today, will shift and change. So how the field of public art engages in education and embraces technology will determine its future relevance/impact.”

What is the difference between public art and street art? ›

The difference is that street art is illegal, uncoordinated art without a budget, while public art has a customer, an initiator, often has a curator. Sometimes these notions are confused with each other, and some people may associate any art in public places with vandalism.

How do you answer what is art? ›

art, a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination. The term art encompasses diverse media such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, decorative arts, photography, and installation.

What is public vs private art? ›

Art museums can be either private or public. A private museum is often the personal art collection of an individual who determines how the collection is exhibited and how the museum is run. A public museum must follow legal and ethical standards, plus it must adhere to its mission statement.

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