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What is public art?

The classic images evoked by the phrase ‘Public Art’ are usually of static bronze or monolithic stone structures. While these images of grand works of metal and stone have a well established place in the artistic lexicon, they only encompass a portion of what is regarded as contemporary public art.¬† As all artistic definitions expand, contract and evolve over time, so has the contemporary view of public art. Today, public art has moved beyond that of permanence and solidity, seeking to engage the community in a manner that, while not excluding the methods of the past, brings them to life as a part of the community. Contemporary public art is not simply an aspect of the landscape, expanding to examine the ideas of personal and community engagement, the context and recontextualization of place and fomenting the exchange of ideas and identity within a community.¬†

To learn more about the nuances of defining public art, click on the sampling of articles to the right, which were hand-selected from the pages of Public Art Review magazine.

A History of Public Art in Minnesota

 From the foreward of Public Art in Minnesota, published by Forecast Public Art in 1994.

... imagine the effect of being surrounded by multiple forms of public art - performances in public places and other forms of temporary public art created by independent artists and community groups, as well as government percent-for-art projects - as a natural part of our public lives. By providing as healthy counterbalance to the barrage of cynical and manipulative media images that have eroded public discussion and a sense of shard purpose, public art - like trees in the natural world - produces the oxygen of our built environment.

Produced in 1994, this guide illustrates the history of public art in Minnesota up to 1994 and provides a guide to many public art works viewable today across Minnesota.

Download the PDFClick to download the full booklet in PDF format.


Featured Article

 Reinventing Public Space: Contemporary Placemaking Practices in Berlin

If the definition of placemaking is, as one firm puts it, to "infuse identity into a three-dimensional space," then the practice characterizes a holistic approach to a site. As such, placemaking necessarily transcends the traditional disciplines of urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, public art, and so on.

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Sanford Center Terazzo Floor

The floor, which had a significant budget beyond the art budget, could become a low-maintenance, permanent art fixture at the event center enjoyed by all, seamlessly integrated into the architecture of the building.

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