Contemporary Art to Public Space
According to Ian Chilvers, John Glaves-Smith (2010), although there are many landmarks to define the beginning of Contemporary Art, it can be considered that the beginning of Concept Art in the late 1960s can be considered as the beginning of the late 1960s. The significance of completely changing the global artistic trajectory is an important landmark of scholarly value. This is a view of art history, independent of each individual country and specific artistic circumstances.
Through research and analysis of the development and change of Contemporary Art and its interaction with society, this paper will share views with the question "How influential is Contemporary Art in creating community space?".
Different from the movements of Modern Art, Contemporary Art is not only a revolution in visual art, but also a revolution in artistic thought. Contemporary Art's greatest contribution is to prompt people to radically re-examine art itself and the political, economic, and cultural background in which it exists. Further more, it goes beyond art, encouraging the public to revisit modern culture and reflect on humanity's past and present. With a new method of thought, from a new perspective, the dominant feature of Contemporary Art is the concept that artists want to express, which has long transcended all forms. In fact, Contemporary Art activities have gone beyond the framework of “Fine Art” and even “Art”.
Contemporary artists such as Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) consider artistic labor to in fact carry out social reform, purifying the human heart. He also turned the artist into a social activist, a messenger, a revolutionary, shouldering the responsibility of reforming the world.
Although very diverse in terms of expression, Contemporary Art focuses on theses. Contemporary Art exhibitions are often built on major theses. The book “Themes of Contemporary Art: VisualArt After 1980” by Craig McDaniel and Jean Robertson identified major themes such as: Identity, Body,Time, Memory, Place, Language, Science, Spirituality, etc.
Contemporary Art is no longer confined to the space of museums and art galleries. Public spaces and cyberspace on the internet are becoming an important domain of Contemporary Art. Theories that have influenced Contemporary Art practices are Postmodernism, Postcolonialism, Gender, Anthropology of art and cannot be ignored, including the relational aesthetic degree of Nicolas Bourriaud. Aesthetics of relations promote Contemporary Art to play an important role in the construction of public spaces.
Contemporary Art in Public Arts
Contemporary art changes the concept, language and way of art. It expands the boundaries of traditional art to such an extent that the term Visual Artist used instead.
Therefore, the infrastructure, which is necessary for it to live, must be different from creation to reception - interaction. The software of this infrastructure is the conceptual, philosophical and aesthetic perception of art in the creator and in the public. The hardware of the infrastructure is public, private, and individual spaces for creativity and interaction, arts foundations, governmental, non-governmental and private art and cultural institutions, audio visual technology, new techniques that artists must master and sponsor organisations must be able to provide. The laws, the legal framework for it to work - because it needs money, space and a license before it can form a work.
It impacts the community differently than before. The public needs to interact, actively from concept to participate from within the work, co-create, not passively receive, stand outside the work. Traditional art can be considered as the art of reception (Receptive); while ContemporaryArt is the art of participation - Conceptual (Conceptive).
Contemporary art negates the work, its author and the public in its old forms and can be interdisciplinary, dependent on new forms of computer-media-internet. The philosophy, story and operation of Contemporary Art touch and upset almost all the issues of aesthetics (postmodern space with its loneliness and different demands), art (language) figurative language, ready-made objects, common objects, garbage, topography, bodies and their effects, biological and physiological processes, sociology (a work is an event, closely associated with literature). popularisation, rebellion, criticism, public outrage, volunteers and curators, new institutions for the Visual Arts, confrontation and communication between museums, galleries and streets), morality philosophy (radicalisation, publicization of privacy issues, sex, homosexuality, human rights, feminism), political science (associated with propaganda, critical advocacy of all political decisions, becoming a community talk in real and virtual space - blogs, social networks, forums, etc and thus clash with koans, courts not least), economics (it can be non-profit but artists, curators still make money, non-government but very political, economic should be generously funded, associated with advertising, advertising language, with the market and manipulation of galleries and curators). It became a global phenomenon, a reality without borders, the most vibrant part of art, operating as a network.
There is a view that contemporary art must reflect the times, otherwise they are just decorations. For example, in the 1960s in America, Basquiat was one of the great contemporary artists. At this time, the movement reflected the ascendancy under the influence of the Vietnam War. There was also the historical cold war and the changing world power order. At the same time, in the art world there was also a major shift towards abstract art: How to understand portraits of unknown human form? What is the role of artists in museums? This was also the period when the art world was criticized for being too "elite": museums at that time seemed to be institutions that favored artists whose work was easy to sell, while leaving many others out. And Basquiat was a rebel for that period. He was the one who brought the street into art, and said that art should reflect the lives of ordinary people. Ironically, he was rewarded by the elite itself and became one of the pioneer artists to attack injustice and discrimination. As a black man who spoke out against class discrimination, Basquiat and his art became so iconic that his work, paradoxically, became one of the most expensive in the world. The intensity of Basquiat and his work, which comes from being a contemporary artist, clearly reflects the period in which he lived.
The term “Public Art” or “Community Art” in the theories express any art work created and located in a space where the public has access to. According to Cher Krause Knight in “Public Art: Theory, Practice and Populism”, Public Art has existed for thousands of years, across numerous cultures and societies, and has served a range of functions. For example, in ancient Greek and Roman Culture, sculpture played an important role in communication between the state and the people. Mass-produced statues ofRoman Emperor Augustus Caesar were placed in various public places to serve as propaganda, conveying the specific characteristics of the leader. The enduring presence of this sculpture recalls his position as a powerful orator and diplomat with a pious divine nature, reaffirming his authority over the minds of the people. These types of idealized monuments to great leaders continued throughout later societies, as seen in the sculptures of Napoleon Bonaparte and Joseph Stalin. In America, it could be recognized in 1963, when a report of the status of arts in the federal government was responsed by John F. Kennnedy.
Most extant public art from Antiquity consists of various types of stonework which is monuments of honor, statues, and other religious or architectural sculptures. Nowadays, the genre of public art encompasses a wide range of works from fine, decorative, and visual arts. As well as architecture and sculpture, it also includes painting, stained glass, ceramics, mosaics and tapestries, as well as a variety of contemporary art forms, such as Earthworks, Assemblage, installation and performance, along with related Happenings. It includes temporary exhibits, such as Snowballs by Andy Goldsworthy (London, 2000), temporary exhibits (e.g.Faberge Eggs), or temporary structures commemorating events specific (e.g.Millennium Dome in London).
From Public Arts to Public Spaces
In the "Contemporary Art and Performance in Public Spaces" interview hosted by the University of California Television (UCTV), Mark Pally, Karen Farber and Susan Thesis all agreed that the most important element of bringing performances and Displaying contemporary art works in the community space is the creation of connection and spread to people. Public art plays many roles in public spaces. Primarily art encourages people to think about it and interact with the public space the art is located in (Hawkins, 2013; Lossau & Stevens, 2014). In the research of Thejas Jagannath in “The Effect of Public Art on Public Spaces.Poets, Worms and Street Art”, many interview respondents shared the idea that public art was part of everyday life. For example, an art history student suggested: “I think what’s nice about art in public spaces particularly is that you don‟t have to enter a gallery or an art institution, it becomes a part of everyday life. You interact with it in a different way than if you saw a painting in a gallery”.
More and more contemporary works of art have been displayed in public and famous places, one of them is "The Bean". "Cloud Gate" or "The Bean" is a public sculpture at the center of AT&T Plaza in MillenniumPark, Chicago. It is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together and placed on the ground. It measures 33 x 66 x 42 feet (10 x 20 x 13 m) and weighs about 100 tons. The sculpture was nicknamed "The Bean" because of its shape, a name Anish Kapoor didn't like at first, but later liked. Cloud Gate attracts thousands of visitors every day. People play with the sculpture, look at it from different angles and walk beneath it. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has declared the sculpture's dedication date, May 15, 2006, as "Cloud GateDay". Since its installation, the sculpture has become one of the most famous public works in the world. TIME magazine describes it as an essential photo opportunity and more of a destination than a work of art; The New York Times writes that it is both a “tourist magnet” and an “extraordinary art object”; while USA Today refers to it as a monumental abstract work. Cloud Gate is considered to be the most famous work of art created by a contemporary artist.
Arguably the most controversial street artist in the world, Banksy’s works have become a subculture in their own right. Banksy expressed political statements and disruptive vision which have impacted cities across the globe at vital moments in modern history, provoking alternative viewpoints and encouraging revolution in the art world. He is also the author of many famous Contemporary Art works, including "Girl with Balloon" (2002) and "Love is in the Air" (1974). "Girl with Balloon" depicts a young girl, whose hair and dress are blowing int he wind, reaching for, or releasing, a red, heart-shaped balloon that has slipped from her grasp. The gesture and the red balloon, an archetypal symbol of childhood and freedom, present a powerful message that can be read in a number of ways. Whether you see the girl as losing the balloon, or about to catch it, the meaning can be interpreted as a loss of innocence or the arrival of new hope and love.
Meanwhile, "Love is in the Air" has been repeated many times in support of various political campaigns, notably the Syrian refugee crisis in 2014. In 2018, a framed copy of the work spontaneously shredded during an auction at Sotheby’s, thanks to a device that Banksy himself installed in the frame. He re-titled the shredded work, “Love is in the Bin”. The buyer who had purchased the print for a record price decided to proceed with the sale.
The materials of the public artist long ago moved beyond bronze, marble, and stained glass. Contemporary artists do not hesitate to dip into the pockets of the material, cultural, or technological worlds to retrieve something that sparks their imagination or serves a desired effect. Public art collections reflect the growth of electronic art and socially integrated design that continues to expand the artist's palette and the artist's role in the public sphere. The conservation and maintenance of public art exist where the desire for control and the desire for freedom intersect, mirroring the tension throughout our culture between the urge to preserve memory and history and the value we place on freedom of expression and living in the moment. Our public spaces are shaped by intricate planning that entails a purposeful arrangement of physical elements and an attempt to balance guarantees of endurance with inspirational vision.
The above works are typical examples of how contemporary art has influenced the development and construction of public spaces. It is completely reasonable to think that this trend will be more popular and developed in the future. However, caring for public art in these intricate circumstances is complicated. We are in constant motion, juggling contradiction, high expectations, ignorance, and a disparate set of goals. One practices the maintenance of public art in the midst of the messy, tangled world of urban life.