Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects › Forums › GENERAL DISCUSSION › Why is Public Art Typicly Extremely Abstract?
- This topic has 1 reply, 5 voices, and was last updated 13 years, 7 months ago by Trace One.
July 15, 2009 at 6:26 am #173668Dean “Mack” McKenzieParticipant
I have seen many projects and discussions about public art, even a post here about graffiti. I have noticed that much of the public art I have seen has been so abstract as to loose much of a sense of purpose. What I mean to say is that many people “don’t get” abstract art much less larger than life examples. I think there is a need for this type of art, sections of museums are devoted to it. But is there a way to incorporate traditional art into the open spaces we design? Even if it is not traditional medium but traditional subjects. I saw a great exhibit in the Boise Art Museum by Devrah Sperber. It was enlightening to see traditional topics displayed in non traditional ways. I am not a world traveler so maybe this type of thing already exists, if so post some examples for me.August 5, 2009 at 3:05 pm #173676Trace OneParticipant
I think you probably neeed to travel more, or just look at garden/urban design books from other countries – a lot of public art is not abstract, although I agree we have approved a lot of abstract art in america recently – I find public art to be usually abysmal. Stuff that was put up in philly was actually embarassing – or some of the sculptures highlighted at UCSD campus, projects they are really proud of – one of the sculptures looks just like the rock monster from “Galaxy Quest” – and no-one saw the connection…Another is a representation of a woman, near the medical school, and water drips from her fingers – looks like blood..really horrendous..Or what about the Viet Nam Vet Memorial in DC – – Maya Lins design was a beautiful abstraction, really moving, but through the public art process a group of representational army figures was added, in counterpoint to Maya Lins gorgeous creation…So it runs the gamut, I think is what my conclusion is, but is too often really bad art..I agree with you there…There – a bunch of stuff you can look up on the internet – I am not good at posting… Check out the sculptures at Versailles – really gorgeous and representationa.l,..August 6, 2009 at 10:12 am #173675Steve BartleyParticipant
Every landscape architect should create their own artwork or sculpture during their career at some point to understand the transition and development of the initial idea or concept through to the construction phases and siting……..I mean why not take the jump from designer to artist………All art is research in many ways if you think about, as is landscape design and the end results of that are not always what you expect or end up with. To be commisioned to provide artwork by a client can only ever be a gamble on their part if you are to provide original art in the true and pure sense of the word.
In relation to traditional and/or figurative sculpture take the examples of soviet or southeast asian communist artworks where the gigantic proportions of Stalin or Chairman Mao statues provide the abstract element relating to scale, they are still figurative artworks like the statues of a GI soldier from WWI or WWII and / or Civil War general in the Town Square although their scale seems to give them another element and power.
When you think about it there is no one better placed than the LA to decide or provide what artwork will fom the centrepiece of their brilliant conception……in other words all back to college to get your BA’s in Fine Art….and there is another string to our alrerady heavily strung bows.August 10, 2009 at 1:40 am #173674J. Waldron, RLAParticipant
I am a big fan of Patrick Dougherty’s work. I had the good fortune of working with him on a few projects when he came to Clemson. The guy will work you to death harvesting the material.August 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm #173673
Mack, this is an interesting question and conversation…
It is my opinion that all Landscape designers/ architects ARE Environmental Artists in a general sense. The site is the blank canvas and we create an experience for the user by applying our design skills with a practical understanding of building skills. This is an amazing opportunity to manufacture three dimensional theater at its best. However, if we fail to generate a truly creative atmosphere by neglecting site specific analysis, inclusive of opportunities and constraints… only then… does it fall flat as just one more built work that may speak to the intended programming, but does not speak to the spirit of place.
Commissioned Public Art, more specifically, should be designed to do just that. ‘Should’ is the key…although we have all witnessed projects that have been unsuccessful in that attempt. To me, it is because the commission recipient failed to consider the surrounding built environment as part of his conceptual proposal. He/she also failed to work in tandem with those in charge of the site design.
Yes… some Public Art looks as though it just fell from the sky and landed haphazard on a concrete slab in the center of the site. And, it is true that those who allowed this to occur may have selectively agreed to a particular style or artist that would seem to be more acceptable/ non-objectionable to the general public. Such a waste of time and resources… but the biggest waste, to me, is the opportunity to create meaningful space.August 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm #173672
But is there a way to incorporate traditional art into the open spaces we design? Even if it is not traditional medium but traditional subjects.
In order to really answer this, one must define ‘Traditional’… as this concept varies and evolves with time, geography, culture, trends, etc.
A huge group wants the city to move that statue elsewhere because, among other things, it frightens people. To me, that suggests that the artist succeeded in evoking emotion. I believe that if the statue remains in place for ten years it will become as iconic as the airport’s architecture, which could have been vanilla as well. Had the city simply erected a horse-like abstraction instead, millions of people would have driven by without noticing… and would have lacked something to complain about.
Denver has surprised and delighted me with the decision to truly utilize Art and Architecture within the confines of DIA. Some years ago, I attended one of the initial proposal presentations for the long entry corridor. It was at once exhilarating and a tad disappointing to witness the conceptual musings of the select finalists chosen… including James Corner, Martha Schwartz and Mary… ummm….(case in point, I can’t even recall her name)… sorry Mary.
Or what about the Viet Nam Vet Memorial in DC – – Maya Lins design was a beautiful abstraction, really moving, but through the public art process a group of representational army figures was added, in counterpoint to Maya Lins gorgeous creation…
This was an incredible disservice to not only Maya, but to the general public at large and to the monument visitors specifically. To me, it is akin to allowing well meaning, yet oblivious restorers loose with a paint-by-numbers kit on The Last Supper. But that’s just me…
When you think about it there is no one better placed than the LA to decide or provide what artwork will fom the centrepiece of their brilliant conception……in other words all back to college to get your BA’s in Fine Art….and there is another string to our alrerady heavily strung bows.
Beautifully realized and stated.August 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm #173671
“Paris and other big cities in europe have a huge amount of traditional art in every corner and in almost every street. For me it’s a great influence and really big bag of ideas.”
Absolutely! Paris is an amazing city to spend time in and to learn how to dwell with public art. The notion of art as an ‘after thought’ or as only a centerpiece to ‘decorate’ a space is blurred there. How delightful to witness children crawling all over the great works of Maillol in the Tuileries…or skating in the shadows of the Eiffel tower. Or to see the surprised look of the weary traveler as he exits out of the train station and is somewhat dazed by the glare and confusion of shining stacked clock faces.
Small and large parks are jammed into every conceivable space as one turns the next corner. But most importantly… these areas are actually utilized by the local inhabitants… as they offer such a reprieve from the noise and activity of city life.
These spaces use art/ architecture as an interactive method to engage the user. It is part of the experience of place and never intended as something untouchable or to be merely viewed from afar.
http://homepage.mac.com/j.norstad/paris2006/images/DSC00469.jpgAugust 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm #173670
Some successful examples… in my opinion:
…or just the simple idea of letting the user actually decide the location of his seat… what a dynamic concept!
http://www.planetware.com/i/photo/jardin-des-tuileries-paris-f1206.jpgAugust 26, 2009 at 5:46 pm #173669Dean “Mack” McKenzieParticipant
Thank you all for your comments and ideas. I has been great to see what others are thinking!!
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