The tilted trajectory of public art : New York City, 1979 - 2005
Author(s)Earl, Samantha C
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Brent D. Ryan.
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This thesis explores the relationship between urban planning and public art, and questions the efficacy of past and current models, whilst pushing us to develop new ones. It strives to glean the most salient issues universal to all instances of public art, and uses four case studies to illuminate such issues in practice. Tilted Arc by Richard Serra and Metronome by Jones and Ginzel adhere to a conventional model of public art - an object in a public space, commissioned by a small group of "experts," with an essentially passive role accorded to audience. The Gates and the work of artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles emphasize ephemerality, integration and participation. While vastly different from one another, the latter two also strive to engage more directly with urban planning and political processes. Tilted Arc is the watershed public artwork, and sets the stage upon which the other three case studies unfold. Within the context of New York City's neoliberal transformation, this thesis seeks to situate public art's role in the process, capping the story with The Gates in 2005. With modernist notions of public art losing relevance, this thesis argues that unrealistic expectations are still all-too-often placed on public art, using vestigial notions of the relationship between artist and audience. Simultaneously such outdated ideas undermine the potential for us as urban planners and public art producers to find new ways of working together in the service of cities that are "revitalized, cosmopolitan, just and democratic."' Instead this thesis argues that we deconstruct concepts of form, process, and audience/intention, and reconstitute new models for public art in our cities. Optimistically I argue that such thinking is already underway in cities like New York. It is fundamental that we consider how to refine and consolidate what is working for public art, and integrate such aspects into urban planning and policy from the outset. With both public art and urban planning at a crossroads, the potential exists to think and act boldly as we move forward. Professional silos need to be regularly challenged - collaboration will be the most important ingredient needed to redefine and shape the trajectory of public art in the 21st century.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 142-148).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.