Public Art Fund

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The Public Art Fund is a non-profit organization founded in 1977 by Doris Freedman (died 1981), a Director of New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs, and the President of the Municipal Art Society.[1] They have organized highly visible artists' projects, new commissions, installations and exhibitions in public spaces throughout New York City. The Public Art Fund was born from the merger of two pre-existing organizations, CityWalls (founded in 1966) and the Public Arts Council (founded in 1971). In 2005, it was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. [1] [2]

New York City public projects[edit]

The organization has cooperated with the Whitney Museum of American Art on the Whitney Biennial Outdoors, in Central Park.[2]

The Fund's work has increased due to the influence of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a supporter of public art. Since Bloomberg took office, he has asked the Public Art Fund to organize temporary exhibitions of outdoor artwork in City Hall Park. In 2003, they organized "Element E," created by Roy Lichtenstein 13 years before his death in 1997, for installation at City Hall Park. According to Susan Freedman, president of the Public Art Fund, these projects are "important to the morale of the art community," and they "[send] a message that the arts are alive in this city."[3]

In 1997 the Fund organized Ilya Kabakov's "Monument to the Lost Glove," a giant glove made of red plastic resin, which was bolted to the traffic triangle where Fifth Avenue and Broadway cross at 23rd Street. In 2000 they worked with Kabakov again on one of their most expensive projects, "The Palace of Projects," an aggregation of 65 model environments with explanatory texts, drawings and sketches that explore the improvement of the human condition. It was housed in a 40-foot-tall spiraling wooden structure in which one room follows another, up several levels. It cost $300,000 and was shown at the 69th Regiment Armory, Lexington Avenue at 26th Street.[4]

Recent New York City projects included Nancy Rubin's Big Pleasure Point at Lincoln Center (photo); Corner Plot by Sarah Sze at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza; Alexander Calder in New York at the City Hall Park; and Material World at the MetroTech Center in Brooklyn, which features new commissions by Rachel Foullon, Corin Hewitt, Matthew Day Jackson, Peter Kreider, and Mamiko Otsubo.

Performance art[edit]

The Fund moved into a new territory when it announced it would present "Martin Creed’s Variety Show" on March 30, 2007, at the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Creed won the Turner Prize in 2001.[5]


The book Plop: Recent Projects of the Public Art Fund, celebrates the success of the Fund in financing many publicly placed works of art over the last few decades, many of which are now beloved, though they may at first have been derided as "ploppings". Several currents or movements in contemporary art, such as environmental sculpture, site-specific art, and land art, counterpose themselves philosophically to "plop art," as well as to traditional public monumental sculpture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Press Release, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presents Doris C. Freedman Award to New York artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, New York City Government, March 9, 2005. (on file with the author)
  2. ^ Is Sculpture Too Free for Its Own Good? by Ken Johnson, The New York Times, May 7, 2004, Section E; PT2; Column 1; Leisure/Weekend Desk; Pg. 33; Art Review
  3. ^ Raising Lichtenstein in Manhattan by Carol Vogel, The New York Times, November 14, 2003, Section E; Part 2; Column 3; Leisure/Weekend Desk; Pg. 31
  4. ^ A Depiction of Progress by Carol Vogel, The New York Times, January 28, 2000, Section E; Part 2; Page 34; Column 3; Leisure/Weekend Desk
  5. ^ Inside Art: Public Performance Art by Carol Vogel, The New York Times, January 5, 2007,

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]