From Eros to filling the fourth plinth: A crash course in public art

The Art Everywhere campaign, which launched this week, aims to turn the nation's billboards into an art gallery. Britain sure has form for big public art...

GREAT SCOTT

1840

A monument dedicated to author Sir Walter Scott is erected in Edinburgh. It is later described as a "gothic rocket ship"

CIRCUS ATTRACTION

1892

Eros, a sculptural work by Alfred Gilbert, is now surrounded by the gaudy signs and sights of Piccadilly Circus

MOORE MOORE MOORE

1955

27 years after his first public commission, Henry Moore begins his Yorkshire Sculpture Park bronze works

HOUSE PROUD

1993

Rachel Whiteread casts an empty London home in concrete. She wins the Turner Prize but the council demolishes it

NORTHERN SIGHTS

1998

The 200-tonne Angel of the North earns acclaim for Antony Gormley, but it inspires a wave of bad public art

STAND TALL

1999

Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo stands atop Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth. The first in a series of artworks on the previously empty spot

B-LIST

2004

Manchester's £1.7m B of the Bang sculpture is unveiled. Eight years later, after some of its spikes fell off, it was worth £17,000 in scrap metal

WALL ART

2006

Banksy stencils an infamous graffiti work in Bristol. Some of his pieces are cut out of walls by collectors, prompting lawsuits

BLUE PERIOD

2013

Hahn/Cock, a large cockerel by artist Katharina Fritsch, is installed on the fourth plinth, despite complaints

Profile: Elmgreen & Dragset

By Holly Williams

This Danish (Michael Elmgreen) and Norwegian (Ingar Dragset) duo have worked together since the mid-Nineties, and it's been a blast. Forget portentous, monolithic, or grandstanding public art; theirs is playful, unexpected, with a sideways approach. They put an un-enterable Prada shop on an empty stretch of Texas road. A sculpture of a man in Helsingor gave unsuspecting visitors a fright by occasionally winking.

Their Trafalgar Square fourth plinth sculpture, Powerless Structures, Fig 101, mocked traditional equestrian battle-triumph bronzes by plonking a little boy on a rocking horse. And they recently went one better: bringing the fourth plinth idea to Munich. Their first commission is a hollow recreation of London's, with a fully-furnished little flat inside.

Their work has been popular and a tad controversial, rather than establishment-approved; as Elmgreen once commented "We're too naughty to care about the most mainstream commissions".

How to: Make your own public artwork

By Liam O'Brien

Don't let Kapoor and Gormley have the monopoly on big, showy commissions. Make your own masterpiece – no Goldsmiths degree necessary...

You're making an artwork lots of people will see, so it's probably best to spend lots of cash, preferably someone else's. And that doesn't mean it has to be big. Tracey Emin's Roman Standard, erected in Liverpool in 2005, was tiny.

It's perfectly legal to patronise the public with your art, but make sure it doesn't cause them physical harm. Spaceship Earth, a 175-tonne bronze sphere in Kennesaw, Georgia, was reduced to rubble in 2007. Luckily, no one was injured.

Banksy's works are brilliant, and the murals of San Francisco's Mission District have become a tourist spot. Why not, then, grab a can of paint and decorate the outdoors with your inspiration? One caveat: graffiti is still illegal.

Comments