Site-Specific Art


The idea, which came to prominence in the 1960s, that the physical location and surroundings of an artwork are inseparable from its identity. This concept arose as a result of 1960s artists’ increasing interest in the physical contexts of their artmaking, specifically how different contexts could change (and more importantly, complicate) the experience of an artwork. The best-known example of this type of work is Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, which Serra created specifically for a public plaza in Lower Manhattan in 1979 and that was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts. Public outcry against the work was intense, and as a result, the work was removed in 1989. It was never re-installed anywhere else, as Serra had been contracted to create a site-specific work solely for the plaza; accordingly, he argued, “to remove the work is to destroy the work.”

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