The Easel

18th February 2020

An Arch and a Gulf: When Public Art Falls Short of Social Reality

We all support the idea of public art, right? Well, when it works. There are undoubted successes – Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial, Kapoor’s “bean” in Chicago – but plenty of failures too. Public art is an “instrument” for the public good, but what exactly is that and how do we measure it? Aesthetics? Foot traffic? A “renewed sense of place”? If the ingredients for success are so elusive, why fund only from the public purse?

11th February 2020

What Do We Want History to Do to Us?

More on Kara Walker’s monumental fountain, currently in London. What do we want from public art? “To memorialise”. Yes, but memorialise whom, whose history and which memories? “Public art claiming to represent our collective memory is just as often a work of historical erasure and political manipulation. Monuments are complacent; they put a seal upon the past, they release us from dread.”