Art in the public realm

The phrase “art in the public realm” refers to the creation, presence and maintenance of works of art from different art epochs and styles in the public realm. The public realm includes urban parks, streets and squares, and enables everyone to enjoy free access to art at any time. Art in the public realm can revitalise public areas in towns and cities, and significantly enhance the urban environment with interesting and representative components. It also serves to convey cultural values, constitutes a zero-cost educational opportunity, and both promotes and enhances the image of the respective town or city. From this perspective, this form of art also offers an economic benefit through increasing tourism, and offers considerable potential for redesigning and upgrading town- and city centres.

Art in the public realm is not restricted to a specific form of fixed installation, but can also exist as performance art. The best-known example of this is the wrapping of the Reichstag building in Berlin by Christos and Jeanne-Claude in 1995. Art in the public realm can also include contemporary forms of art, such as street art or graffiti murals, but also classic forms of art, such as sculptures, statutes as well as installations of various different kinds.

In contrast to the phrase “art in buildings”, art in the public realm is distinguished by its funding possibilities. Art in the public realm is not funded by the state, since the design of public realm is usually a matter for the town or city council and/or municipalities. Regardless of its funding, this form of art is therefore used for works of art in the public realm. Art in building, in contrast, refers to a programme that supports art projects by visual artists in the context of a new building or renovation project with a share of 1 – 4 % of the construction costs. The art which is created in this respect is accordingly situated on private property.