The Realm of Public Art

Getting acquainted with Public Art

Cast, carved, painted or assembled, magnanimous or beneath your feet, representational or abstract, Public Art is a rather unique form of Art that has a direct and deep association with the masses. Not always but usually, Public Art is commissioned for the site. It is supported by fundraising policies developed by municipal authorities. It may enhance its surroundings, complement its environment or it may stand in contrast and defy the traditions. It can depict values and ethics of a community or start debates on the structure of society.

How it is made, where it is made and why it is made; Public art is a true reflection of how we, as a collective species, see the world. It is our reaction to time, place and identity in a diverse society.

The ‘Public’ and ‘Art’ for Public Art

Public Art is not expected to appeal to every culture. It does attract attention that can either lead to agreement or controversy. In any case, Public Art is supposed to make you wonder, to think and engage. Varied opinions are inevitable. They are a sign of a constructive and progressive community. They highlight the fact the community is interacting with the work and the thought behind it.

Public Art Maestra Mural in San Francisco (12,000 sq ft)
Maestra Mural in San Francisco (12,000 sq ft) created by 7 women, 50 volunteers, 100 yrs of combined experience

The interpretation of Public Art is a communal process. Our expressions evolve, so do our definitions and materials hence it is always challenging for an artist to engage masses. With a contemporary culture that is always changing, the execution of Public Art requires expertise and integrity. It is a serious commitment.

Public Art is Public History

Public Art is a collective memory. It is a reflection of a society as they lived in timelines, their visions and beliefs. Such examples include Parthenon (c. 447 - 422 BCE) in Athens that embodies the religious and social aspects of Greek cities. The Ravenna Mosaics in Roman churches celebrated the end of Dark ages. The sculpture of Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini bears witness to the religious propaganda in Rome. Public Art from the 18th and 19th century largely commemorates kings and Bishops. These are architectural masterpieces such as the St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Statue of Liberty in New York, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Public Art chronicles our experiences.

Public Art today

Public Art in the 20th and 21st century is widely influenced by media and form. The political unrest has paved many paths to understand and execute Public Art. It has function. Public Art is directly involved in the achievement of movements and regimes.

Public Art - Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor 2004
Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor 2004

Public Art has expanded into novel forms. Land Art by Christo and Jeanne Claude utilizes pink fabric to encircle the eleven islands of Florida. Skyscrapers and Graffiti, from Banksy posing as an Art vendor to Anish Kapoor’s captivating clouds. New developments are continuously pushing the boundaries of Public Art.

PublicArt - Banksy poses as a local Art Vendor, Venice Biennale Arte 2019
Banksy poses as a local Art Vendor, Venice Biennale Arte 2019

Galleries and Museums as Public Art

Public Art is transitory in contemporary culture. Art galleries and museums have become Public Art themselves. In contrast to their previous exhibitions, the current collections are versatile. The prints, paintings and installations depict cultures, raise questions and constitute the life of a society. Museums such as Louvre in Paris and Victoria and Albert in London are frequently associated with Public history.

Introducing the ‘Public’ and ‘Art’ in Public Art and taking up such people and works in our collection and exhibitions is a responsibility. Zaaman has taken it as a challenge to include a diverse range of people creating Art, not only art graduates. Not restricting to any community but promoting cross-cultural debates under one roof.

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