There is no denying the fact that the art is the unique phenomenon, displaying the magnificent and contradicting history of human society. Being closely connected with the communities, their values, goals, and transformations, the art is the powerful generator, inspiring the contemporary human beings and their descendants.
The problem of public art is the subject to numerous discussions. In 2014, Jack Becker, the founder and director of non-profit Forecast Public Art, expressed several interesting ideas, concerning the issue. According to Jack Becker, who is the expert in public art, art can be a generator ‘identity’ for a community, being the phenomenon that ‘humanizes’ cities.
To get the deep insight into the problem, the essence of the public art is to be introduced. Being the integral part of the human culture, art is the mirror reflecting the lifestyle, beliefs, customs and traditions of various communities during the long history of the human society. In fact, public art can include various pieces of art that are demonstrated in the public places. The access to them is free and available to everyone. Public art comprises different branches, represented with buildings, sculptures, and graffiti.
The core notion of the subject is ‘identity’ that can be referred to as “the set of characteristics by which a ... thing is definitively recognizable or known”. In fact, public art is the whole philosophy. There is the certain interchange between the ideas of the artist who designed a masterpiece and the community accepting and estimating the artwork. Becoming the integral part of a certain community, a piece of public art appears to be its vital characteristic. They are famous both nationally and worldwide. Various communities can be “identifiable by their public art. To illustrate, the Eiffel Tower is associated with the capital of France, while, on hearing or seeing the Gateway Arch, people think of St. Louis. These art items can be monumental, like Taj Mahal, or they can be represented by creative sculptures, like the heroes of American fairy-tales Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, symbolizing Bemidji in Minnesota.
Becker draws the public attention to interactive masterpieces, such as a huge chalkboard located in New Orleans. Passers-by are suggested to think over everlasting and philosophical issues and write urgent activities they have to do before their death. This is a new trend in the art, combining the creative imagination of the designer and ordinary members of the community. It becomes the power that encourages people to be better and enriches their inner world.
In Minnesota, the public enjoys a light-up instalment. People touch a railing that embraces the artwork, being attracted by the opportunity to interchange and alter the colours of its lights. All genius things appear to be simple. This creative approach has made the instalment the key sight of Minnesota.
Becker claims that the authorities are to be extremely attentive to the new trends in public art. The extraordinary masterpieces can both enrich the image of the place and damage it completely, striking spectators with its bad taste or making the place be the laughing-stock. Therefore, the authorities must take into account several points before letting the creating new piece of public art. First, they should think the way the new creation may contribute to the desirable image of the place. Second, the general plan of the city is to be examined. The new artwork is to fit into the city image. Evaluating all the advantages and negative side of the project, the authorities are to make the decision about the financing the art project.
The Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal
Alxandar Gustave Eiffel designed the Eiffel Tower as the entrance gate to the World’s Fair at the end of the eighteenth century. Being made of iron, the artwork appeared in the extraordinary form, making extremely bad impression on the famous people of art and the authorities. They were indignant about its shape and manner of design, stating that the tower is ugly and awkward. Time passed. Nowadays, the Eiffel Tower in Paris is truly considered to be the magnificent symbol of the capital of France. This artwork is not only the top demonstration of engineering thought, but it suggests its visitors the marvelous view on the Paris and its surroundings. The tower is the highest construction in the city, being approximately 320 meters high. Moreover, this artwork was the tallest artificial creation in the world during a half of the century. Reflecting the everlasting struggle of communities, the competition between New York and Paris artworks started in the 1930s, when the Chrysler Building was designed to win the worldwide record in the height. Nevertheless, French engineers built the aerial atop in 1957, establishing the engineering leadership of France. Now, the Eiffel Tower consists of three levels, comprising restaurants, observation decks, and lifts. The top deck is on the third storey, giving the inhabitants and guests of the French capital to enjoy the beauty of the city. Lifts and stairs lead to the highest point of the famous construction. The Eiffel Tower is considered to be the public artwork. Nevertheless, people are to pay certain fare to visit the sight.
Being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal of Agra is the cult building, strongly associated with India. The best human feelings, strong sincere love and the bitterness of the loss of the cherished person are embodied into this piece of art. This masterpiece was created in the sixteenth century according to the order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, when Mumtaz Mahal, the emperor’s wife left this world giving the birth to their child. Originally, the Taj Mahal was the mausoleum where Shah Jahan’s wife was buried. The piece of art is designed as the magnificent architectural complex, consisting of several objects. Reflecting the communities’ history, the Taj Mahal has experienced the influence of three cultural communities, such as Indian, Persian, and Islamic. Visitors can enjoy the amusing effect of changing colours of the marble that depends in the time of the day. The sunlight and the moonlight reflect from the structure’s surface, creating the magnificent sight. Since 1983, NESCO has been protecting the Taj Mahal as the world heritage.
To sum up, public art is the powerful phenomenon, reflecting communities’ history, their goals and values and making the strong influence on the members of these communities. Public artworks are strongly associated with the places they are located, enriching the communities cultures or damaging them completely. Therefore, the authorities are to be extremely attentive to designs of such artworks, taking into account various aspects.