Spring 2008

Public Art in the US


Carol C. Clark (Section 02)


What is public art and what role does it play in public life and collective memory in the United States? This seminar will consider art that is commissioned, paid for, and owned by the state as well as private works scaled to public encounter. We will focus on works of art made in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States and will look closely at the evolution of public art in the nation's capitol -- from Horatio Greenough's monumental, nude statue of George Washington to Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We will consider the relationship between those who commission, those who live with, and those who decide the fate of public art, such as Richard Serra's Tilted Arc and the memorials unfolding at the 9/11 site in lower Manhattan. We will ask whether and how public art mediates between private and public life, when and how it defines national values, and why so many have aroused controversy. Class discussion, student presentations, short papers, and a research project are expected. One class meeting per week. Limited to 15 students. Professor Clark.