Monday, August 1, 2011

Public Art

Public art is commissioned by bureaucrats and paid by public funds. The purpose of its existence is to express some edifying general idea or belief which the public is expected to recognize as their own.
Of course no one is actually asking the public what it would want to be honored, commemorated or expressed in public places. Such decisions are left to Zeus-like administrators and sweet little committees of mostly women imposing their good sense of what would be “appropriate”.
The pool of these edifying ideas is actually very small because there is always some group of loud people ready to be offended by variety of ideas and to avoid in advance controversies there is ever smaller repository of public sentiments that can safely be expressed by permanent public art. As a result artists can exercise unfettered freedom of expressing political correctness and be handsomely rewarded for the good sense of pleasing the mind-controllers.
 Political correctness came to us straight from USSR, the system that covered tightly its land mass with alleys of Lenin statues from the Western Ukraine to the Kuril Islands, touching the toes of outstretched Japan. So much public love,” Amor sacro” provided many decades of busy work for artists of the Soviet Union.

Here in America political correctness has been attenuated, adopted to suit  country proud of its mythos of freedom. What worked best is what is simplest: avoid any controversial subjects. Thus public art embraced abstraction and what a happy union it proved to be. The fit is so clever and safe as if someone invented “nameless soup” so devoid of any identifiable distinct taste that no complainer could ever reject it by pointing to a floating bit and say “I hate leeks”. There is nothing there but boiled water and cosmic dandruff- so, eat it!

The title, rather surprisingly is “Olympia” as if this effort was tied to ancient Greek sculpture. Other possible titles are: “Swastika’s Vacation” and “Air Duct and I are Separated”. The quote from The New York Times explains:”... Formal and abstract metal sculpture dominates. “Olympia” (2008), by Maria A. Hall, is a large, dynamic abstract stainless steel sculpture installed in an open grassy area. Like all abstract sculpture, it is concerned with relationships of form, line and space.” If I were the the author of it I would be concerned too. Just look at this language: miraculously the stupefying primitivism is called “dynamic form” and mechanical, machine –made form is presented as concern for line and space?!!! No wonder they feel validated and legitimized presenting these pieces of obscene junk as art. Olympic Gods, please forgive her if you can.
Across the country there is tenfold as many or more of these idiotic pieces mascarading as sculpture as statues of Lenin were in USSR. The statues of Lenin were not high art: they were political kitsch and a very purposeful reminder who is in charge, like watch towers in their Mind-Gulag. 
What is seriously wrong with “modern sculptures” in public places  is that the source, the origin of their birth is not human heart or inspired mind .

Just as it is in contemporary painting , parallel to Metallic Junk there are some worthy exceptions of serious figurative sculptures in public places firmly tied to occidental tradition.One such splendid piece of great art is a statuary of several figures installed in front of Banco Central in San Juan,Costa Rica.The author is Fernando Calvo.

Right in the heart of administrative, financial and political power stand a group of peasants to remind those in power of the people they govern. It is not an assembly of angry protesters and there is no sense of demand expressed there. These figures portray ordinary, hard-working, honest people who are not coming to complain about their lot, but their presence is very potent. Standing in front of the statuary it is inescapable to understand the clarity of their message. It is a bond of trust by which the hard toil of national labor will be done providing that the ruling class will protect laborers from exploitation, excessive greed and usury, corruption and vile manipulations. It is as if they installed this silent but eloquent, permanent reminder that they are “present”, which is the title of the sculpture.
It seems that this sculpture better than most shows how important public art can be, conveying meaningfulness, reaching into our social ideals to embody them with clarity, dignity and gravity.


  1. There is a part of me wants to be open to abstract art because there are so many who are for it, and also, because wanting to have as few regrets in life as possible I would hate to miss out on an experience. Sometimes I feel the same way about football. Just think, I could go to games, watch them on TV and have so many people to relate to and chat with about the players, coaches, fields, commercials and so on. But really I feel nothing for either. If I must suffer at a game with family I am more apt to toddle off in my mind and think that it would be fabulous to have stadiums to watch art events. For instance let's build a temporary stadium to observe an artist create a HUGE ceramic sculpture and wood-fire on site. Once the piece was completed the stadium would be moved to the next site and the current site would be the beginning of a holy ground, garden, park. And the process would start all over again in another town.

  2. All worthwhile endeavours are attempting to build meaning.All,but for abstract art hard at work to eradicate any traces of meaning.What insectile brain would be drawing satisfaction from such betrayal of human search of meaning?!!

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