Text by Nicki Mafi, Architectural Digest
Commissioned public artwork has been part of our culture for many millennia. Over time, as world travel has become easier and safer, commissioned civil works of art have turned into tourist attractions all their own. From the bustling streets of New York City and Chicago to quieter corners of the globe in Howick, South Africa, and Las Colinas, Texas, Architectural Digest surveys some of the world’s most fascinating public sculptures. Each one answers a cultural curiosity—a question that was asked by a group or city officials, and answered by the artists.
Since 1997, visitors to and residents of Sydney, Australia have enjoyed the annual event, Sculpture by the Sea. Located on the famous Bondi beach, the event draws in over 100 sculptures by artists from around the world. Visitors of the public event will enjoy sculptures similar to the one seen above, which is of a large red "View TM" sign on the top of a picturesque cliff.
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is both playful and beautiful.
Created by Can Togayand Gyula Pauer, The Shoes On The Danube Bank were designed as a remembrance for the hundreds of Hungarian Jews who had to leave their shoes on the bank of the river before they were shot during the Holocaust in Hungary.
First Generation by Chong Fah Cheong. The spirited sculpture, which was commissioned by the Singapore Tourism Board, depicts a group of boys jumping into the Singapore River, not far from the Fullerton Hotel.
The Knotted Gun by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. Aptly located next to the United Nations in New York, the sculpture has come to represent hope for a nonviolent future. The piece—commissioned by Luxembourg as a gift for the UN—has been cited as one of the inspirations behind the arms-to-art movement.
Nelson Mandela by Marco Cianfanelli. Located near Howick, South Africa, the sculpture was commissioned by Cultural Mechanics, a group that funds cultural projects for governments around the world. Cianfanelli’s work is positioned along the R103 road where Mandela was captured by apartheid security police in 1962; after his arrest, Mandela spent the next 27 years in prison.
Balloon Flower (Red) by Jeff Koons. This public sculpture is set in the shadow of the new World Trade Center in New York City. The work was commissioned by Larry Silverstein, the businessman who famously signed a lease for the original towers several months before the attacks of 9/11.
Feature Image: The Capture Site
Images: Sydney.com; Britannica.com; Virily; National Arts Council; Art-nerd.com; Documentarytube