Public art is a reflection of how we see the world – the artist’s response to our time and place combined with our own sense of who we are. 

-The Association for Public Art

Welcome to part two of our ongoing series where we explore the timeline of public art’s history throughout the world! This particular article will be about the forms of public art that were produced between the 15th and 18th centuries. 

Public Art of the Renaissance Era (c. 1400 – 1600)

The Italian Renaissance is considered by many as the golden era of public art, with artworks that were sponsored by the church or civic authorities of the time. 

Statue of David realized by Michelangelo / Florence (Italy)
Statue of David realized by Michelangelo / Florence (Italy)

Donatello’s bronze statue David, Michelangelo’s marble sculptures Pieta and David, and Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel frescoes at Padua are prime illustrations of this upsurge in Christian-themed art. 

Baroque Public Art (c. 1600 – 1700)

The Catholic Church pushed a grand campaign of religious propaganda in the 17th century in order to regain its influence and authority following the Protestant Reformation period. 

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy
St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy

This came in the form of the dramatic and distinctive style of Baroque art in architecture (such as the renovated St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and its approaches), beautiful Biblical art in sculptures (such as The Ecstasy of St. Teresa of the Cornaro Chapel in Rome, by Bernini), and in paintings (eg. works by Caravaggio, Rubens, and Velazquez) so as to convey its message to churchgoers all throughout Europe.