Cover image for Public art : theory, practice and populism
Public art : theory, practice and populism
Knight, Cher Krause.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Malden, MA : Blackwell, 2008.
Physical Description:
xv, 187 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Cheryl Krause Knight takes a bold look at American public art and its populist appeal, offering a guide to our creative tastes and shared culture. The text offers a refreshing alternative to the traditional rhetoric and criticism surrounding public art.
Introduction: a short history of the United States' "official" public art -- Roosevelt's New Deal -- General Services Administration's art-in-architecture program -- National Endowment for the Arts' art-in-public-places program -- Conventional wisdom: populist intentions within established paradigms -- Art as monument, art as memorial -- Art as amenity -- Art in the park, art as the park -- Art as the agora -- Art as pilgrimage -- Culture to go: from art world to the world -- What museums do for us -- My museum -- Education, outreach, programming -- The alternative museum/alternatives to museums -- Not quite "art, " not quite "public": lessons from the private sector -- The art of entertainment -- This is special, I am special -- Open pocketbook, open agenda? -- Embracing spectacle -- Super viewer: increasing individual agency on the public art front -- Power to the people -- Claiming space and place -- Dig in -- Conclusion: art for all? -- The trouble with (re)development -- Nonprofits and the ephemeral idyll -- Back to school -- Grieving loss, remembering life -- Two tales in one city.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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N8835 .K65 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This book takes a bold look at public art and its populist appeal, offering a more inclusive guide to America's creative tastes and shared culture. It examines the history of American public art - from FDR's New Deal to Christo's The Gates - and challenges preconceived notions of public art, expanding its definition to include a broader scope of works and concepts. Expands the definition of public art to include sites such as Boston's Big Dig, Las Vegas' Treasure Island, and Disney World Offers a refreshing alternative to the traditional rhetoric and criticism surrounding public art Includes insightful analysis of the museum and its role in relation to public art

Author Notes

Cher Krause Knight is Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College in Boston.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Knight (Emerson) offers a cogent discussion of the placement, funding, content, and purpose of American public art of the past century by considering the novelties and norms of such artwork and its associated experiences. She begins with swift analyses of the New Deal, Art in Architecture, and Art in Public Places, along with institutional and private endeavors. Throughout, Knight calls attention to public art's elitist and populist dimensions. Seductive insights include the suggestion that Chicago's Millennium Park is a model of the town square for the new millennium. The study weaves together theoretical frameworks (Duchampian moments, happenings, and the Baudelairean conception of the flaneur) to establish fresh perspectives on what public art is, or can be. The overall lack of illustrations does not detract from the study's quality. The book's parenthetical citations are brief and helpful; the thorough bibliography will greatly benefit public art professionals, artists, art historians, and laypersons. Providing a detailed, frank account of public art and viewer agency across the broadest spectrum, Public Art offers insight into works that might be beyond traditional conceptions. By bringing art that is often at the margins to the center, Knight offers fresh ideas on a subject ripe for further discussion. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through professionals; general readers. J. Decker Georgetown College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. xiv
1 Introduction: A Short History of the United States' "Official" Public Artp. 1
Roosevelt's New Dealp. 3
General Services Administration's Art-in-Architecture Programp. 6
National Endowment for the Arts' Art-in-Public-Places Programp. 15
2 Conventional Wisdom: Populist Intentions within Established Paradigmsp. 22
Art as Monument, Art as Memorialp. 23
Art as Amenityp. 28
Art in the Park, Art as the Parkp. 33
Art as the Agorap. 37
Art as Pilgrimagep. 41
3 Culture to Go: From Art World to The Worldp. 48
What Museums Do for Usp. 52
My Museump. 56
Education, Outreach, Programmingp. 62
The Alternative Museum/Alternatives to Museumsp. 70
4 Not Quite "Art," Not Quite "Public": Lessons from the Private Sectorp. 79
The Art of Entertainmentp. 84
This is Special, I am Specialp. 87
Open Pocketbook, Open Agenda?p. 93
Embracing Spectaclep. 101
5 Super Viewer: Increasing Individual Agency on the Public Art Frontp. 107
Power to the Peoplep. 111
Claiming Space and Placep. 115
Dig Inp. 123
6 Conclusion: Art for All?p. 131
The Trouble with (Re)Developmentp. 132
Nonprofits and the Ephemeral Idyllp. 137
Back to Schoolp. 142
Grieving Loss, Remembering Lifep. 145
Two Tales in One Cityp. 150
Bibliographyp. 158
Indexp. 176