Tilted Arc was a controversial public art installation by Richard Serra, displayed in Foley Federal Plaza in Manhattan from 1981 to 1989. It consisted of a 120-foot-long, 12-foot-high solid, unfinished plate of rust-covered COR-TEN steel. Advocates characterized it as an important work by a well-known artist that transformed the space and advanced the concept of sculpture, whereas critics focused on its perceived ugliness and saw it as ruining the site. Following an acrimonious public debate, the sculpture was removed in 1989 as the result of a federal lawsuit and has never been publicly displayed since, in accordance with the artist's wishes.
In 1979, the United States General Services Administration's Art-in-Architecture program decided to commission a work of public art to grace the open space in front of a planned addition to the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building in Manhattan, New York City.
Taking the recommendation of a National Endowment for the Arts panel of art experts, the U.S. General Services Administration administrator gave the commission to sculptor Richard Serra,a fine-arts graduate of Yale University who at age 40 was one of the leading minimalist sculptors. The contract for the commission required Serra to give the work to GSA, making it property of the United States.
The post-minimalist artwork was designed and constructed in 1981. 120 feet (37 m) long, 12 feet (3.7 m) tall, and 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) thick. As its name suggests, it was slightly tilted.Exemplifying Serra's minimalist, conceptual style, Tilted Arc was a solid, unfinished plate of COR-TEN steel,
Placed in the Federal Plaza, the work bisected the space, blocking views and paths of those who frequented the plaza.Serra said of the design, "The viewer becomes aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza. As he moves, the sculpture changes. Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer's movement. Step by step, the perception not only of the sculpture but of the entire environment changes." The steel is self-oxidizing and is designed to develop a natural rusted appearance over time.
For Serra, an important part of the work's meaning was that it would interact with the commuter passing through the plaza, a location usually passed through quickly on the way to somewhere else.This would subsequently become important as the basis for Serra's designation of the work as site-specific.
Commissioned in 1979, Tilted Arc immediately attracted intense negative feedback, prominently from Chief Judge Edward D. Re, as well as fierce defenders. Those who worked in the area found the sculpture extremely disruptive to their daily routines, and within months the work had driven over 1300 government employees in the greater metro area to sign a petition for its removal.Serra, however, wrote, "It is a site-specific work and as such is not to be relocated. To remove the work is to destroy the work."
Serra's side argued that Tilted Arc was designed to be counterintuitive, to "redefine" the space in which it existed, and that due to this intimate relationship between the location and the meaning of the work, it could not exist as a piece of humane art unless it remained in that exact location within the Foley Plaza.Therefore, it was said that by removing the physical steel sculpture, the government would destroy the broader work, regardless of its physical existence.
Opponents countered that, because the sculpture forced the site to function as an extension of the sculpture, it was in effect "holding the site hostage." Calvin Tomkins, an art critic for The New Yorker magazine, was quoted saying, "I think it is perfectly legitimate to question whether public spaces and public funds are the right context for work that appeals to so few people – no matter how far it advances the concept of sculpture." Sociologist Nathan Glazer, writing in The Public Interest , declared that Serra was “attacking the awful by increasing the awfulness. To the misery of working in an ugly and poorly designed building, it was Serra’s thought to add additional misery in the form of a sculpture that was ugly to most people… that obstructed the plaza, that offered no space to sit on, that blocked sun and view, and made the plaza unusable even for those moments of freedom when the weather permitted office workers to eat their lunch outside.” The Storefront for Art and Architecture invited prominent NYC artists and architects to envision the future plaza as a protest in "After Tilted Arc".
A public hearing was held on the subject of the sculpture in March 1985, with 122 people testifying in favor of keeping the piece and 58 in favor of removing it. Notable speakers arguing in favor of the sculpture included Philip Glass, Keith Haring, and Claes Oldenburg. Artists, art historians, and even a psychiatrist testified for the sculpture to remain in its location.Local workers argued for removal, with one person saying: "Every time I pass this so-called sculpture I just can’t believe it ... The General Services Administration, or whoever approved this, this goes beyond the realm of stupidity. This goes into even worse than insanity. I think an insane person would say, ‘How crazy can you be to pay $175,000 for that rusted metal wall?' You would have to be insane— more than insane."
In support of its removal of the sculpture, the government advanced multiple security arguments, claiming that allowing the sculpture to remain in the plaza would "run the risk of deflecting explosions into government buildings opposite and impeded adequate surveillance of the area beyond."A jury of five voted 4–1 to remove the sculpture. In 1986, Serra sued the United States General Services Administration to enjoin the removal of "Tilted Arc," launching the lawsuit considered the most notorious public sculpture controversy in the history of art law.
Serra's complaint against the United States General Services Office sought to enjoin the office from violating an oral agreement not to remove the sculpture from Federal Plaza.Serra also claimed that the removal of "Tilted Arc" constituted a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech and Fifth Amendment right to due process. The federal district court rejected all three of Serra's claims, and Serra appealed his constitutional claims to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
On the First Amendment claim, the court of appeals ruled that while "Tilted Arc" was first amendment speech, the government's legal ownership of the sculpture made it government speech subject to the government's discretion. Even if Serra did retain a free speech interest in "Tilted Arc," the government's interest in keeping the plaza unobstructed constituted a permissible, content-neutral time, place, and manner restriction on free speech.The court further determined that Serra did not retain a property interest in the sculpture, since it was indeed signed over to the government upon commission, and therefore did not have a Fifth Amendment due process claim.
Tilted Arc was stored in three sections stacked in a government parking lot in Brooklyn upon removal from the plaza. In 1999, they were moved to a storage space in Maryland.Although the physical component of the work is safe in storage, it will likely never again be erected since it is Serra's wish that it will never be displayed anywhere other than its original location. Serra has stated that the case exemplifies the U.S. legal system's preference towards capitalistic property rights over democratic freedom of expression.
The Tilted Arc controversy may have contributed to the enactment, in 1990, of the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). An amendment to the Copyright Act of 1976, VARA provides "moral rights" to the artist so that they have rights to attribution and integrity when it comes to paintings, drawings, and sculpture.However, a 2006 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals established that VARA does not protect location as a component of site-specific work.
William Gaddis satirized these events in his 1994 novel, A Frolic of His Own .
Site-specific art is artwork created to exist in a certain place. Typically, the artist takes the location into account while planning and creating the artwork. Site-specific art is produced both by commercial artists, and independently, and can include some instances of work such as sculpture, stencil graffiti, rock balancing, and other art forms. Installations can be in urban areas, remote natural settings, or underwater.
Carter v. Helmsley-Spear, Inc. 861 F. Supp. 303, rev'd 71 F.3d 77, cert. denied 116 S. Ct. 1824 (1996).
Public art is art in any media whose form, function and meaning are created for the general public through a public process. It is a specific art genre with its own professional and critical discourse. Public art is visually and physically accessible to the public; it is installed in public space in both outdoor and indoor settings. Public art seeks to embody public or universal concepts rather than commercial, partisan or personal concepts or interests. Notably, public art is also the direct or indirect product of a public process of creation, procurement, and/or maintenance.
Richard Serra is an American artist known for his large-scale sculptures made for site-specific landscape, urban, and architectural settings. Serra's sculptures are notable for their material quality and exploration of the relationship between the viewer, the work, and the site. Since the mid-1960s, Serra has worked to radicalize and extend the definition of sculpture beginning with his early experiments with rubber, neon, and lead, to his large-scale steel works.
The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA),, is a United States law granting certain rights to artists.
The Jacob K. Javits Federal Office Building at 26 Federal Plaza on Foley Square in the Civic Center neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City houses many federal government agencies. At over 41 stories, it is the tallest federal building in the United States. It was built in 1963–69 and was designed by Alfred Easton Poor and Kahn & Jacobs, with Eggers & Higgins as associate architects. A western addition, first announced on "inadvertently acquired land" in 1965, was built in 1975–77 and was designed by Kahn & Jacobs, The Eggers Partnership and Poor & Swanke. The building is named for Jacob K. Javits, who served as a United States Senator from New York for 24 years, from 1957 to 1981.
Foley Square, also called Federal Plaza, is a street intersection in the Civic Center neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City, which contains a small triangular park named Thomas Paine Park. The space is bordered by Worth Street to the north, Centre Street to the east, and Lafayette Street to the west, and is located south of Manhattan's Chinatown and east of Tribeca. It was named after a prominent Tammany Hall district leader and local saloon owner, Thomas F. "Big Tom" Foley (1852–1925).
Adelaide Festival Centre, Australia's first capital city multi-purpose arts centre and the home of South Australia's performing arts, was built in the 1970s, designed by Hassell Architects. Located on Kaurna Yarta, the Festival Theatre opened in June 1973 with the rest of the centre following soon after. The complex includes Festival Theatre, Dunstan Playhouse, Space Theatre and several gallery and function spaces. Located approximately 50 metres (160 ft) north of the corner of North Terrace and King William Road, lying near the banks of the River Torrens and adjacent to Elder Park, it is distinguished by its two white geometric dome roofs, and lies on a 45-degree angle to the city's grid.
The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, sometimes called Main Justice, is the headquarters of the United States Department of Justice. It houses Department of Justice offices, including the office of the United States Attorney General. The building was completed in 1935. In 2001, it was renamed after Robert F. Kennedy, the 64th Attorney General of the United States.
Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980), was a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued on June 9, 1980 which affirmed the decision of the California Supreme Court in a case that arose out of a free speech dispute between the Pruneyard Shopping Center in Campbell, California, and several local high school students.
John Douglas Crimp was an American art historian, critic, curator, and AIDS activist. He was known for his scholarly contributions to the fields of postmodern theories and art, institutional critique, dance, film, queer theory, and feminist theory. His writings are marked by a conviction to merge the often disjunctive worlds of politics, art, and academia. From 1977 to 1990, he was the managing editor of the journal October. Before his death, Crimp was Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History and professor of Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester.
The Hedgehog and the Fox is a late Minimalist sculpture of Richard Serra, installed between Peyton and Fine halls and the football stadium at Princeton University in 2000. It was commissioned for the university by Princeton graduate Peter Joseph in honour of his children some years before his death in 1998.
7 is an 80-foot (24-metre) high sculpture built by American sculptor Richard Serra and located in the Museum of Islamic Art Park, in Doha, Qatar. Unveiled in December 2011, it is the tallest public art piece in Qatar and the tallest Serra has ever conceived. It is also his first sculpture to be showcased in the Middle East. Constructed from seven steel plates arranged in a heptagonal shape, the work celebrates the scientific and spiritual significance of the number seven in Islamic culture. It rests on a man-made plaza extending 250 feet into Doha harbour.
Shift is a large outdoor sculpture by American artist Richard Serra, located in King City, Ontario, Canada about 30 kilometers north of Toronto. The work was commissioned in 1970 by art collector Roger Davidson and installed on his family property. Shift consists of six large concrete forms, each 20 centimetres thick and 1.5 metres high, zigzagging over the northwest portion of the 4.03 hectares (40,300 m2) property's rolling countryside. In 1990 the Township of King voted to designate Shift and the surrounding land as a protected cultural landscape under the Ontario Heritage Act. The property is now owned by a Toronto-based developer who announced in 2010 that they appeal the decision of the Ontario Conservation Review board with plans to develop the property for housing, necessitating the removal of Shift. In 2013 the Township of King voted to prepare a bylaw to designate Shift as protected under the Ontario Heritage Act, preventing its destruction or alteration.
Large Arch is an outdoor sculpture by British sculptor Henry Moore. It was installed in 1971 and is located in the outdoor plaza of the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library in Columbus, Indiana. Xenia and J. Irwin Miller commissioned the sculpture and gave it to the library. The sculpture is nearly 20 feet tall and is made of sandcast bronze that has been patinated.
A statue in Ventura, California, representing Junípero Serra, the founder of Mission San Buenaventura, was commissioned by Ventura County through the Works Progress Administration as part of the Federal Art Project in 1935. This statue, made of concrete from a clay model by Uno John Palo Kangas, was placed in a prominent location in a public park across the street from the Ventura County Courthouse in 1936. After the Courthouse was repurposed as Ventura City Hall, the statue was designated as City of Ventura Historic Landmark No. 3 in 1974. As deterioration of the concrete statue became a concern, a wood replica was created by local carvers and used to make a bronze cast. The concrete statue was replaced by the bronze cast in 1989. The wood replica was set in the atrium of the city hall for public display.
Jane ("Jenny") Hoadley Dixon is an American arts administrator. Dixon has undertaken initiatives which contributed to the development of four New York City cultural organizations—the Public Art Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum. Her work has also focused on individual artists as vital contributors to society. Dixon is currently Director Emerita of the Noguchi Museum and Trustee Emerita of the Public Art Fund.
The Los Angeles Mall is a small shopping center and series of plazas at the Los Angeles Civic Center, between Main and Los Angeles Streets on the north and south sides of Temple Street, connected by both a pedestrian bridge and a tunnel. It features Joseph Young's sculpture Triforium, a colorful sculpture unveiled in 1975, which has 1,500 blown-glass prisms synchronized to an electronic glass bell carillon. The mall opened in 1974 and includes a four-level parking garage with 2,400 spaces. It stands on the site of what once was some of the oldest commercial blocks in the city that was demolished in the 1940s and 1950s.
Art in Architecture, a program of the General Services Administration, oversees the creation of art in American federal buildings that launched in 1962. The art commissioned and selected is funded through the reserving of half a percent of the projected construction costs. As of 1982, the program had funded 250 works at a cost of US$8,600,000.
Louise Nevelson Plaza, is a public art installation and park in Lower Manhattan dedicated to the work of the American 20th-century female artist Louise Nevelson. The triangle-shaped plaza is bounded by Maiden Lane, Liberty Street and William Street, adjacent to the building of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.