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Article

Naomi Miller

Sculptural or architectural structure that channels a spring or source of water and shapes it by means of jets or sprays, the water falling into one or more containers or basins.

Fountains may serve decorative or practical purposes and have, in a multitude of forms, been a feature of both public and private spaces since ancient times. They have been erected to celebrate technological advancement in a civilization, for example in the harnessing of water for public use; to serve as objects of religious significance or to commemorate events of historical importance; and to create poetic and theatrical displays.

Whereas the fountain is documented throughout the world, its absence from some areas is due to such factors as the lack of an adequate hydraulic system for its construction or, in terms of the fountain’s decorative function, the prevalence of a different aesthetic for the display of water.

The latter has historically been the case in East Asia. An essential feature of ...

Article

Mural  

Clare A. P. Willsdon, Carol Kenna, Nicola Coleby, Desmond Rochfort, Madeline McLeod and Sally Webster

Painting applied to an exterior or interior wall surface, especially in a public building or space. During the 19th century a growing sense of national identity in many countries, especially in Europe, and the emergence of new patrons, both private and public, stimulated a revival in didactic and historical mural painting that was closely linked with revivalist movements in architecture. The mural subsequently became a significant art form throughout the modern Western world, where its potential accessibility for a large viewing public and, in some cases, its ability to stimulate public response led to its use in the promotion of a variety of social and political causes. This article discusses the history of this modern development. For discussion of the techniques used in mural painting, and of their development from antiquity to modern times, see Wall painting and Fresco. For discussion of the important role of mural painting in a number of cultures outside the Western world ...

Article

Jeremy Hunt and Jonathan Vickery

At the turn of the millennium, public art was an established global art genre with its own professional and critical discourse, as well as constituencies of interest and patronage independent of mainstream contemporary art. Art criticism has been prodigious regarding public art’s role in the ‘beautification’ of otherwise neglected social space or in influencing urban development. Diversity and differentiation are increasingly the hallmarks of public art worldwide, emerging from city branding strategies and destination marketing as well as from artist activism and international art events and festivals. The first decade of the 21st century demonstrated the vast opportunity for creative and critical ‘engagement’, activism, social dialogue, and cultural co-creation and collective participation. New public art forms emerged, seen in digital and internet media, pop-up shops, and temporary open-access studios, street performance, and urban activism, as well as architectural collaborations in landscape, environment or urban design.

Intellectually, the roots of contemporary public art can be found in the ludic and the architectonic: in the playful public interventions epitomized in the 1960s by the ...

Article

Mark Stocker

Object created to remind viewers of specific individuals or events, or an object regarded as representing a past civilization, even if its original purpose was different. This article discusses the first meaning—purpose-built, mainly sculptural monuments created for commemoration and addressed to the public—and it is concerned primarily with the history and development of the public monument in the Western tradition. Further information on specific monuments can be found under the relevant city or site article, and information on types of monuments is given in the following art form articles: Bridge, Bust, Cross, Equestrian monument, Fountain, Mausoleum, Obelisk, Pyramid, Reliquary, Sarcophagus, Statue, Stele, Tomb, and Triumphal arch.

The desire to commemorate human values through monuments is universal. Their form varies from sculptural monuments—the main emphasis in this article— to menhirs, mausoleums, or entire cities honouring a ruler, for example Versailles in France or Karlsruhe in Germany. Treated as propaganda tools, monuments are often used to reinforce the political power of their patrons. To render their messages intelligible and effective they are often traditional in style and iconography. If abstract, they generally have a simple, geometric shape, such as ...