Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

-Edgar Degas

Welcome to part 5 (aka the final part) 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 are prevalent today throughout the world. 

Modern Public Art Throughout the World

Land Art

Land Art, arguably the most innovative type of twentieth-century public art, is highlighted by gigantic earthworks such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in Utah (1970) and Christo and Jeanne-encirclement Claude’s of eleven Florida islands in pink cloth (1983). (b.1935).


Skyscraper Architecture, characterized by ever-larger buildings, has dominated 20th-century architectural architecture, arguably the most open and accessible sort of public art.


Abstract Graffitti Concept

This term, derived from the Italian word graffito, which means “to scratch,” refers to illegal “street art” sprayed or painted on buildings in public metropolitan areas by independent “street painters.” Keith Haring (1958-90), Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-88), Banksy (b.1973-4) and David Wojnarowicz (1954-92) are probably the four most famous street painters, all of whom have achieved mainstream commercial success. Graffiti street art is a new contemporary art style that encompasses territorial graffiti, aggressive guerrilla art (now referred to as “post-graffiti art”), and stencil graffiti. 

In contrast, the phrase “street art” includes classic graffiti imagery as well as wheat-pasting, sticker/street poster art, video projection, and street installations. It is frequently used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial or guerrilla graffiti, as well as visual vandalism. 

Technically, neither of these types of (subjectively) freelancing pieces of “artwork” fall under the umbrella of government-sponsored Public Art. 


The Famous Chicago Picasso— Chicago, IL, USA

Recent public art has also included traditional works such as commemorative sculpture, architectural sculpture (e.g., Ian Ritchie’s Spire of Dublin known as ‘the spike’), pure sculpture (e.g., the Chicago Picasso), and murals (e.g., the United Nations building’s tapestry copy of Pablo Picasso’s oil painting Guernica [1937]).

The ‘Chicago Picasso,’ an untitled gigantic sculpture by the Spanish maestro Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), is one of the city’s most iconic works of art. This well-known monument, located at Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop and dedicated on August 15, 1967, stands 50 feet tall, weighs 162 tons, and had cost $351,959.17 to install. (Picasso personally waived all fees.) 

Public Art in Today’s World

The Spider, sculpture of Louise Bourgeois in the Guggenheim Museum — Bilbao, Spain

Famous contemporary public art practitioners include the following artists (works): Louise Bourgeois (Maman, 1999, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao); Jean Tinguely (Stravinsky Fountain, 1983, Pompidou Centre forecourt); Bruce Nauman (Green Light Corridor, 1970, Samuel R Guggenheim Museum NY); Richard Serra (Tilted Arc, 1981, Federal Plaza, New (Cloud Gate, 2004, Millennium Park, Chicago).


The Louvre Museum — Paris, France

Museums house vast collections of prehistoric art, paintings, sculptures, prints, and other works on paper, pottery, mosaics, glass art, metalwork, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, and calligraphy, as well as contemporary forms such as Assemblage, Installation, and Video art. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Prado in Madrid, and the Pinakothek Museum Complex in Berlin are among the best art institutions with the most extensive collections open to the public.