Public Art and Controversies

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Taking a Stance on Public Art

Considering the work “Tilted Arc”, by Richard Serra brings many questions to mind. Especially now, one questions to role of public art and whether or not it is beneficial to taxpayer interest. The ideas of public art really had me considering the value of public opinion when it comes to art. I suppose really art is about making an impression, and that impression doesn’t have to necessarily be a positive one. There were many ideas to ruminate over with this assignment, and it is my hope that I can give clear and concise opinions on the various questions presented. First thing that I believe should be addressed is whether or not it’s “art”. When you look on the Internet and search “Tilted Arc” you certainly see a plethora of sites that found it to be a work of art. There are even posters for sale such as the “Tilted Arc defense fund” poster. Richard Serra, when speaking of the sculpture, had the following to say: “As he moves, the sculpture changes. Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer's movement.”(pbs.org) And this movement specifically seemed to be the catalyst for its removal. People did not want to have to move around it. They may have used the question of whether or not it is “art” purely to facilitate the removal of a structure they deemed a hindrance.

I personally think the people had a right to have this structure moved. Mr. Serra maintains in the book “Living with Art” that a “new location would destroy its artistic integrity.” It almost makes you wonder if he specifically meant it to be an impediment. I do not know whether or not this was his specific idea but I have a good feeling that it was. I base this on his following statement: "I don't think it is the function of art to be pleasing…Art is not democratic. It is not for the people.”(pbs.org) I agree with Mr. Serra on many levels with regard to this statement, but as happens often, this is not a black or white agreement. Art can be a...
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