Art in public

Public art is an art genre in which the concept, function, and form of the work are created through public discourse and for the general public. The works of public art are there for public access and often appear in public spaces, serving as a powerful avenue for the artist to express to the general public.

Essentially, public art engages the viewer outside of traditional exhibition halls, museums, and art galleries. It appeals to the masses through interventions, ideas, actions, performances, and visuals. Today’s public artists look to redefine cardinal concepts such as social engagement, collective identity, social contract, and community.

Stephan Balkenhol - Sphaera, 2007, steel, plastic, bronze and gold leaf, 8,8-meter height, 5-meter diameter, 3,5 tonnes, installation view, Kapitelplatz, Salzburg, Austria feat

Stephan Balkenhol’s massive, golden sculpture in Salzburg – Sphaera

The sculpture Sphaera by Stephan Balkenhol was installed as part of the Art Project Salzburg in the 2007 Salzburg Festival and is based on various medieval mysteries. Construction & design The artwork, situated outside of the Salzburg cathedral on the Kapitelplatz, is easily recognizable from afar thanks to its golden sheen that reflects light …

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David Černý - Head of Franz Kafka, 2014, 40 layers of polished stainless steel, motors, electronics, 10.6 meters tall, 39 tonnes, installation view, Prague, Czech Republic feat

Franz Kafka’s giant rotating head – A statue in Prague by David Černý

One of the most outstanding attractions in Prague is the piece of Franz Kafka, an outdoor sculpture that is more of a technical wonder. The work of art is part of the Quadrio shopping and office complex on Národní třída, created by controversial artist David Černý who had on several occasions along his career …

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Adrian Paci - Centro di Permanenza Temporanea (Temporary Reception Center), 2007, 16-9 video projection, color, sound, 5’30’’

Adrian Paci’s Temporary Reception Center – Hope for a better future

Adrian Paci’s artwork, Temporary Reception Center (2007), is a powerful take on the political themes of displacement. Paci, an Albanian artist, captures the drama of migrants, the denied hope, and the uncertainty of life in a new environment in this art piece. With his work, the artist makes a statement on the refugee crisis …

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Why is there a statue of Shiva the Destroyer at CERN?

If you have been keeping up with the happenings of the CERN, the world’s most advanced scientific research facility, you might have noticed the statue of Shiva the Destroyer. Shiva, the cosmic dancer, symbolizes the natural flow of divine energy. He takes part in Rudra Tandava – a dance representing destruction and rebirth- to …

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Kiev’s UFO – A modernist masterpiece

Deservedly nicknamed the “Kiev flying saucer” or “Kiev UFO,” the Kiev Institute of Information is an authentic work of modernist architecture that stole the limelight during the Soviet era. This awe-inspiring, alien-like piece of Soviet architecture has again come to the spotlight because it is being threatened by the mushrooming of modern shopping malls. …

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Fumiko Hori - Utopia, 2014, 4,5 x 5,5 meter, ceramic relief, installation view, International Lobby on 1st Floor of Terminal Building, Fukushima Airport, Japan feat

At age 95, Fumiko Hori created this mural for the Fukushima Airport

Fumiko Hori supervised the installation of the mural herself, quite an impressive feat for a woman aged 95 at the time. The giant relief wall was based on Hori’s original painting at the CREARE Atami-Yugawara Studio. The relief carving at the airport helps to create an illusion of depth on an otherwise shallow surface. …

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Olympic Flame mosaic at the end of the central hall in the metro station Olimpiiska, Kyiv, Ukraine feat

Olimpiiska – One of Kyiv’s most intriguing metro stations

The Olimpiiska Station, located in Kyiv, Ukraine, stands in the same spot as the former Ploshchad Lev Tolstoy station. It is a part of the third section of the Kurenevsko-Krasnoarmeyskaya line and was launched just 12 months after the commissioning of the second section. Most of the stations that were built on the Obolon …

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African Renaissance Monument, 2010, bronze, 49 meter (161 feet), Ouakam suburb, Dakar, Senegal feat

The African Renaissance Monument – Africa’s most controversial statue

This 49 meters tall bronze statue is located on top of the Collines des Mamelles – one of the twin hills – in the Senegalese capital Dakar. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean just outside the city in the Ouakam neighborhood. The African Renaissance Monument was designed by renowned Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby Atepa following …

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Lin Yilin - Safely Maneuvering across Lin He Road, 1995, performance, Guangzhou, China feat

Lin Yilin – Safely Maneuvering Across Lin He Road

Lin Yilin Lin Yilin needs no introductions in the world of performance art. As one of the most well-known Chinese artists, Yilin has made a name for himself for his contemporary interventions and performance pieces that often criticize China’s extreme urbanization, modernization, commercial globalization, as well as its geopolitical conflicts. Lin was born in Guangzhou, …

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Xu Zhen’s In just a blink of an eye – Defying the laws of physics?

Have you ever seen one of those perfectly timed photos that capture the exact moment someone begins to fall on their bum? With modern technology, it is not hard to capture that “perfect moment”. However, capturing that “perfect moment” in a live performance is nearly impossible; unless you are Xu Zhen. Chinese artist Xu …

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Katsuhiro Otomo - Kinka Doji Riding the Waves Accompanied by Fujin and Raijin, 2015, ceramic relief, 8.7 x 2.8 meter, installation view, Sendai Airport, Japan feat

Katsuhiro Otomo at the Sendai Airport – Riding the Waves

Katsuhiro Otomo’s relief Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of Akira, the 1988 Japanese animated cyberpunk action film, is one of the most well-known manga artists, animators, screenwriters, and film directors in the world. Though he is best known for his manga series and film adaptations, Otomo crossed over into the sculpture world when he was asked …

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Josep Maria Subirachs - Monument a Ramon Llull (Escala de l'Enteniment) (Monument to Ramon Llull (Stairway to Understanding)), 1976, concrete, 870 cm, outer area of the Montserrat Monastery, Catalonia, Spain feat

A stairway to heaven? Josep Maria Subirachs’ sculpture in Montserrat

What is it Situated in Montserrat, Spain, the Stairway of Understanding is one of the most sacred spots in Spain, which explains why it is such a well-known pilgrimage destination among the locals. Millions of tourists visit Montserrat every year to lay eyes on some of the most beautiful monuments in the region. The Stairway …

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Wesley Meuris - Memento Public, 2012, 500 x 1000 x 1000 cm, installation view, Central Burial of Borgloon, Belgium feat

Wesley Meuris’ Memento – A place to leave your worries behind

Memento is a circular pavilion that was created by Belgian artist Wesley Meuris. This beautiful white pavilion is located on the outskirts of the little Flemish town of Borgloon. Being situated directly on the slope, Memento overlooks the central graveyard found in the medieval city that has been nicknamed Central Burial by …

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Vincent Ganivet’s monumental Catena Containers in Le Havre

Le Havre – Catène de containers The Catène de Containers is a sculpture created by Vincent Ganivet in 2017. To build the monument, Ganivet made two archways of containers to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the French city Le Havre. The containers, which were stacked up to 30-meters high, are easily distinguished by the various …

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Shen Ting Tseng Architects - Floating Pavilion, 2016, installation view, Taipei Fine Arts Museum plaza feat

A floating pavilion in Taipei – By Shen Ting Tseng Architects

The Floating Pavilion The Floating Pavilion was a temporary structure exhibited at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum Plaza, Taiwan, in 2016, as the winning design in the annual competition to build pavilions at different spaces in the TFAM complex. The pavilion was designed by Shen Ting Tseng Architects to add vitality to the plaza, which …

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João Filgueiras Lima’s Bahía exhibition center – A brutalist classic

As far as Brutalist architecture goes, the Centro de Exposições da Bahía Building, more commonly known as the Exhibition Center of the Administrative Center of Bahía, is a perfect example. Designed in 1974 by Brazilian architect João Filgueiras Lima, more frequently known as Lelé, this amphitheater was designed to accommodate at least 50 individuals. …

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