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The 17th Contemporary Japanese Sculpture Exhibition

Around the public art

Yusuke Nakahara

Since some time, the name public art has come into use, and it seems that it is quite popular now. From the English name of public art, or it seems that it was born in the United States, but I do not explain the details of that area. I think it will be public art, or if translated, public art, or public art, but so far no such translation has appeared. Katakana notation is valid.

  I learned that the word public art is used publicly when I was commissioned to be a member of the Commission to install paintings and sculptures inside and outside the New City Hall in Tokyo. It was I think the committee adopted the term public art. To be honest, I had some discomfort at first, but I remember somehow getting used to it.

  After that, when I went to bookstores and bookstores in museums overseas, I became interested in the book titled Public Art. One of them had the title “Art for Public Places” (Malcolm Miles, Ed., Winchester School of Art Press). I think it is the simplest and most important definition.

  But that’s okay, but that raises the question of what this “public place” is. Don’t you think of museums, especially national public museums, as public places? I think that what is confronted with public places will be “private places” (private places), but it is unlikely that public museums are private places. However, it would not be normal to call it a public place. Then, it goes without saying that the works exhibited in the museum are not public art. Apparently, the concept of public art seems to have some further limitations in addition to art for public places.

  No other person came up with the name public art. This is because the works that were once called outdoor sculptures or outdoor sculptures are often called public art. Incidentally, “art for public places” is not limited to sculpture. For example, murals are so, and murals are also public art. However, I would like to take up the theme of “Contemporary Japanese Sculpture Exhibition” here.

  It is said that a museum is not seen as a “public place” because it is a special place or space for art lovers, and even if the facility is public, only a limited number of people can go there. Must be due to perspective. On the other hand, public places, when it comes to art, are places that are equally open to those who are interested in art and those who are not. Simply put, a sculpture installed in a public place will be seen by those who are interested in it, and those who are not interested in it will either pass by or repel it. That is the characteristic of public places. The “Contemporary Japanese Sculpture Exhibition” is basically an exhibition for art lovers or sculpture lovers. On the other hand, when the works exhibited at the sculpture exhibition were set up in the city of Ube, they would become works of art for public places and would be different from the works at the exhibition. I don’t get it. In other words, it’s public art. There are people who are very interested in the work and people who are not interested in it. It is the inevitable fate of public art.

  Ube City is noted for its pioneering idea of ​​installing sculptures in public places. It is no exaggeration to say that we have created a guidebook for the business of placing sculptures in cities in this country. It is a public art guidebook. However, because of his great achievements, I think it is time to give another pioneer to reconsider the public sculpture as public art today.

  Public art, that is, works of art installed in public places are not limited to individual works such as paintings and sculptures, but they are good people, but environmental works should be paid more attention. That is to say. Here, “environmental” refers to the realization of a work that takes into consideration the topography of the place where it is installed, the surrounding environment, and space. Perhaps it’s French public art that most strongly shows that consideration. The works of Marta Pan and Dani Karavan are almost part of urban planning.

  It is undeniable that the current state of public art in this country, especially public sculptures and sculptures, has a distinctive character of exhibiting sculptures in an open-air exhibition hall. Though the sculpture in the city is a major element of the cityscape, the idea of ​​sculpture as a cityscape is still thin. In other words, many sculptures give the impression of being isolated in the urban environment.

  Now, here is another question. It means that the loss of monumentality of sculptures has been discussed for outdoor sculptures. It was the basis of the debate that modern sculpture had lost any basis for its monumentality. I have also been involved in such discussions. However, I have come to think that some kind of monumentality is indispensable for public art, even if it is not a monument of historical phenomenon.

  It’s not ambiguous, but in the sense of a city monument. If it has a close relationship with the cityscape or the urban environment, it naturally must have the character of a city monument. I think that the beautification of the city by sculpture cannot be achieved otherwise. I do not think that the sculpture itself will beautify the city at all. This is because changing the environment by installing sculptures is the starting point for changing the cityscape. Whether it beautifies the cityscape depends on the environment. What I mentioned earlier is that public art is an art that an artist considers even the environment.

  Speaking of the “Contemporary Japanese Sculpture Exhibition”, I’ve been looking at my works recently, speculating on how much the exhibitor thinks about these problems. Just a large sculpture does not mean a sculpture in a public place. This is because it is no different from a sculpture in a museum.

  Public art really has nothing to do with indoors and outdoors. It is safe to say that any work that is conscious of the public nature of the work in a public place, whether it has a roof or not, is public. Picasso’s “Guernica” is also public art. If the word public art becomes popular, I think we should reconsider the public nature of art. Outdoor and public sculpture. It’s just a difference in name, but what we’re trying to say is not the same. And I think that public sculpture should be considered now.

  The words outdoor sculpture and outdoor sculpture still sound like sculptures outside the museum. I think it is the time to pursue new issues associated with the names of public sculpture and public sculpture.

(Art critic)

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