12th Research Workshop

Date: 15 July 2007, at 14.00
Place: Saitama University, Tokyo Station College [Access]

Presentation 1
Lecturer: Endo Ritsuko (PhD Candidate, Chiba University)
Theme: Book Design in Modern Japan

Presentation 2
Lecturer: Kudo Yasuyo (Partner, Art & Society)
Theme: Environmental Design and Functional Art in Public Realm: Critical Issues and Social Values: An Examination based on American Public Art History in the 1980s

Public Art, Urban Design, Public Place, Functional Art, 1980s
In present days, policies relating public art, i.e., art created for public places, has been increasingly adopted by cities and other local governments in Western as well as emerging Asian countries with purposes to solidify cultural policies of local cities as a part of urban design policies.

Among the nations with established public art policies, United States initiated the policies early in the 1930’s after the depression. Then in the 1960’s the federal government restarted the public art policies led by art specialists and critics and installed modern abstract sculptures into cities crossing the wall of museums. Its direction was ‘fine art oriented’ emphasizing the value of purity of expression. In the 70’s, these trials were criticized as ‘plop art’ as those sculpture were unrelated to the sites where they were installed. These controversies led the thoughts on ‘site-specific art’, i.e., art work that exists within the context of the properties of the site it is installed. Through this arguments and experiments, public art began to establish its own identity and to trigger new expression in public art field. Simultaneously, experiments letting artists to direct parts of urban design caused a change in the function of artist from acting solely in urban design activities to the amalgamation of ‘art and Design’. This became a trend continuing until now, normalizing collaboration of artists and other design professionals in urban design.

In this report, ‘useful art’, ‘functional art’ __ artists led product design of useful parts of city construction such as plaza, pedestrian walk, bench, bridge, fence, pergola, etc. __ which became a fashion in the 1980’s, is focused for discussion. Analyzing the background for the emergence of the functional art in those days and evaluating the relationship among the artists as creator, citizens as audience and government officers as management, this report searches to discover the factors led to transformation of the art which was valued as creative activities of an individual in the past to art which resonate with actual function of cities, cultural and social tradition of sites. In this report, focusing on the demand by the citizens for functional values and criticism against it by some artists and art professionals, arguments surrounding functional and useful art are discussed and counteractive relationship between public sphere and art is examined.