Cheryl Krause Knight takes a bold look at American public art and its populist appeal, offering a guide to our creative tastes and shared culture. The text offers a refreshing alternative to the traditional rhetoric and criticism surrounding public art
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"Overall, Public Art is a provocative and impressive study of contemporary public art that is ambitious in its pursuit of populist virtues. ... Knight's book is an excellent example of art-historical scholarship." (The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, January 2010)
"[Knight] offers a twenty-first-century definition of public art." (AfterImage, July 2009)
"A broad account of public art in the United States, from its history and growth to its current meaning and purpose." (Sculpture Magazine, March 2009)
"The thorough bibliography will greatly benefit public art professionals, artists, art historians, and laypersons. Providing a detailed, frank account of public art and viewer agency across the broadest spectrum, Public Art offers insight into works that might be beyond traditional conceptions. By bringing art that is often at the margins to the center, Knight offers fresh ideas on a subject ripe for further discussion. Recommended." (Choice, November 2008)
"Cher Krause Knight … focuses on the notion of populist involvement as the yardstick by which to measure public art projects. She touches on well-known moments in the history of public art to illustrate the ways that the public has been variously excluded, humored, harangued, or genuinely integrated into projects. Most interesting are her musings on commercial sites, like Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Las Vegas casinos. In their admittedly pandering capacity for spectacle, she argues, such places include the public in ways that snooty art commissions don't—whatever you say about their aesthetic values." (Public Art Review, Fall 2008)
"Cher Knight situates public art in a continuum of visual experience that includes museums, earthworks and Las Vegas. Embracing spectacle and popular engagement, she expands existing parameters to make public art both more provocative and more truly public."
–Dr. Harriet F. Senie, author of Contemporary Public Sculpture; The 'Tilted Arc' Controversy; and co-editor of Critical Issues in Public Art
"In this remarkable book, Cher Knight has done a splendid job of synthesizing current thinking on public art rightly concluding that in the modern world it is the public who awards value."
–Dr. Sally Webster, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, Lehman College and the Graduate Center CUNY
American public art is a living entity always in flux. It is not relegated only to physical objects, but is manifested through an accretion of meaningful experiences. Though the art world has often taken an elitist view of popular culture, public interest in art has grown. This dynamic has thrust public art into the center of academic and intellectual debate, especially in the last few decades.
This book takes a bold look at public art through a populist lens, offering a more inclusive guide to America's creative tastes and shared culture. It examines the history of public art – from FDR's New Deal to Christo's The Gates – and challenges preconceived notions of public art, expanding its definition to include sites such as Boston's Big Dig, Las Vegas' Treasure Island, and Disney World. In doing so, it offers a refreshing alternative to the traditional rhetoric and criticism surrounding public art.
Reframing populist sentiments, Public Art: Theory, Practice and Populism lobbies for a revolution in the way we think about, talk about, and appreciate public art.