Public art

DEFINITION

A descriptive term for art, usually sculpture, in public spaces such as playgrounds, plazas and parks. Traditional public art includes statuary, of which a dramatic example is "Diana", a classical figure by Augustus St. Gaudens. Thirteen feet high, it is a gilded copper weathervane atop the Madison Square Garden Tower in New York City. One of the largest pieces of public art in America is at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, where Gutzom Borglum designed and oversaw the carving into the mountain of the faces of four U.S. Presidents. Public Art can also refer to environmental sculpture that gives meaning to the space around it such as a set of fountains created by Isamu Noguchi for Expo '70. This event was an international exposition hosted in Osaka, Japan to celebrate Japan's industrial accomplishments in the free world. Noguchi, who lived between Japan and New York City, created nine fountains that recalled forms and shapes from his childhood in Japan. They were inspired by America's success with Apollo 11, the space launch symbolizing the future of mankind. "When the exposition opened in March 1970 the fountains sprayed, jetted, misted, and rotated in ways that no one had ever thought of or seen before." (Noguchi 325) Other sculptors noted for public art include Daniel Chester French who sculpted the sitting figure of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Memorial; and Alexander Calder whose mobiles and stabiles are in numerous public places. Sources: Peter Duus, "The Life of Isamu Noguchi"; AskART database.

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