Make Public Art Public

<p>Pubilc art should be guided by public input, according to this commentary.</p>
May 13, 2008, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Despite the huge numbers who visit galleries and museums, most people don't go. If they do, the convention of the art gallery is that the work is entitled to be there and your right to question it is correspondingly limited. But in the street where you live, the supermarket where you shop, the square where you sit, you have a right to state an opinion."

"Talking to the public must be one lesson to be learned in the decade since Antony Gormley's Angel of the North drew our attention to the notion that a symbol of a place becomes part of its identity, both summing it up and driving it forward."

"Given that art in public spaces is increasingly fashionable, it has never been so important to make it better. There are warning signals aplenty about uncertain quality ranging from our streets being filled with a 'sheer proliferation of Frankenstein monster memorials' (Tim Knox, Sir John Soane's Museum) to 'a lot of public art is gunge' (Gormley)."

"Anyone considering a public art commission, especially one intended to lead or to signal the transformation of a region or an environment, should be cautious about expecting too much."

"Yet we should expect a great deal of a public work of art at the level where it really matters - in our interaction with the places where we live, work and play. They should be enjoyable; we should be cheered by what we see, perplexed perhaps, made curious certainly; a daily encounter should not become dull routine. And there is a deep reason why we respond to such objects and images as we do."

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Published on Sunday, May 11, 2008 in The Guardian
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