PRINT March 1981

Public Sculpture: The Pursuit of the Pleasurable and Profitable Paradise

A SERIES OF IMAGES HOVERS over the recent emergence of public sculpture in America. In one, we witness an epiphany: above a plaza swept by sunny skies, the heavens open and a helicopter descends. The sculpture is deposited amidst the massed crowds who respond with adoring cheers. In a second, the scene changes. The machines are gone. Quiet reigns. Children clamor over their new-found toy and rest on its ledges. And to such paradisiacal visions of the public “interacting with the art” is aligned one more, a ceremonial view, in which the Mayor dedicates the artwork, signifying official acceptance.

But such images could as easily be replaced by others—by scenes of hostile crowds, or graffiti scrawled over Corten; by images of rabid newspaper editorials and carefully pointed cartoons. And by statistics: when Philadelphia dedicated its statue of Major General George Meade in 1887, the railroads

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