Aging Modern Public Sculpture in a Postmodern Era

June 27, 2020, 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM

Session Type: Panel

The public sculpture revival from the late 1960s to the early 1990s saw an increase in the siting of permanent public sculptures that reflected the taste for abstract modernism. In the thirty years since the end of that revival, changes in policies, ideologies, sites, and artistic styles have impacted these artworks. The derogatory terms used to describe modern public sculpture – ‘plop art,’ ‘plaza art,’ ‘plunk art’ – highlight the fact that these aging sculptures are now sited in a postmodern public realm that prizes different characteristics in public art such as physical or social engagement. This panel will discuss the challenges of aging permanent public sculpture, present cases studies, and brainstorm solutions.
Learning Objectives:
  • Understand a basic problem: aging, static public sculptures are ubiquitous, but could be ripe for a reawakening.
  • Grasp the paradigm shift in public art from one espousing Art in Public Places, to one espousing engagement-centric public art.
  • Be exposed to two case studies of static aging public sculptures, their commission history, and a range of intervention options that could work to reawaken these sculptures for the public.