Good times with public art
Post #1134 • March 6, 2008, 5:59 AM • 286 Comments
A decade after his experimental 65ft-high figure was erected in Gateshead, Gormley said the success of the sculpture had inadvertently set a precedent for the proliferation of unchallenging works of art in public spaces.
He singled out The Meeting Place statue of two lovers embracing at St Pancras International Station for criticism. Other works he dislikes are a statue of Churchill and Roosevelt on Bond Street and David Wynne's Boy With a Dolphin in Chelsea.
He went on: "I don't like the way the Angel of the North has been used for some kind of precedent to encourage people and local authorities looking for European funding or investment. When we made the Angel, it was an experiment. We managed to get lottery money and European funding but it was a huge risk."
Later he supplies the quote of the week, whose sentiment I don't argue:
"A lot of public art is gunge, an excuse which says, 'we're terribly sorry to have built this senseless glass and steel tower but here is this 20-foot bronze cat'," he said.
Commenters on the article proceed to kick him around like a soccer ball.
Gormley commenting on the low standard of public artworks is possibly the greatest case of The Pot Calling The Kettle Black in living memory.
I recently finished reading What It Means to Be a Libertarian by Charles Murray. Murray devotes a chapter to what constitutes a public good, and he offers three test questions for picking a stopping point on the slippery slope that descends from public good to boondoggle:
Is the good something that cannot be provided by individuals on their own?
Am I asking my neighbor to pay for a government service that he doesn't want?
Am I asking my neighbor to pay for a government service that benefits me, or people whom I favor, more than it benefits him?
We might apply those questions to Gormley's complaints to interesting effect.