In Which Ways are Art And the City Connected
With the industrial and technological development, the change in ideas and understanding of a particular phenomenon, the world changes and transforms numerous rules and principles that were previously established. What was significant in the past actually becomes irrelevant and difficult to understand at the present moment. What was considered as beautiful and magnificent may be considered as ordinary and outdated. The same process happens with such a broad notion as art. Art is not only some masterpiece, written or created by an artist, writer, architect, etc. Art is the whole process of creation, the place, and the history of masterpiece’s creation. The paper deals with the analysis of close ties between art and the city, concentrating on its common and distinctive features.
Charles Baudelaire (1964) in the preface to his Salon of 1846 depicted art as “an infinitely precious good, a draught both refreshing and cheering which restores stomach and mind to the natural equilibrium of the ideal”. Moreover, in his works he mentioned that the city is the main inspiration that serves for the sake of artist’s creativity and has an indisputable inspirational influence on the artist. Both notions are inseparable, while the city is an art and art is the city (Bourdieu & Johnson 1993). Every part of the city is the artistic recreation, it is a masterpiece with its own history and soul. For instance, Rome, Paris, Venice, and Berlin are only some of the most famous pieces of art represented by the whole city.
Art in the city is playing a significant economic and even political role. Therefore, depending on the function, art has to perform in the city; it can either glorify it, influence its development, “build” it, or destruct trying to concentrate on the city’s defects, corruptions or drawbacks (Zolberg & Cherbo 1997). With the art and the city being intrinsically connected (the city hosts and inspires the artists to create a piece of art, art builds and glorifies the city), the relationship between these phenomena is not straightforward and unique, but rather ambivalent and dual.
Art Creates the City, the City Creates Art
Within the last century, many big cities experienced over-centralization: everything around is positioned as best. It includes money, resources, people and ideas. Accordingly, smaller cities are in a very difficult situation because they are treated as a garden that supplies the harvest. Authorities believe that their main task is to reallocate some significant resources from the centre to the regions. Unfortunately, they do not think that every town needs to have its own face. Nevertheless, it raises the opposite idea, which is to create many cultural centres throughout the country. That is, in a country, relatively speaking, there may even be twenty capitals that have to apply for their own soleness. Moreover, this feature is vital for every city, positioning itself as the cultural centre. Ideally, this should be expressed in branding, which is not a memorable combination of words, symbols, meanings, but the special mission of the city. Branding is not only about art, however, it is a very creative process. Branding has certain technologies and rules, but the cities still need to find something different and unique.
Unfortunately, the most popular type of branding one may notice is to tie the city to a certain incident, which happened in the past (Boeri, Maharaj, Olivares, Rashid & Verjux 2003). However, this is the last method one may resort to. We must understand that branding is aimed not only towards outside but also towards inside. For instance, many people would like to live in the cultural centre, rather than in a place no one ever heard of. It is true that 70 years ago this fact was important and remarkable, but nowadays it will interest only a few people (Becker & Carol 2002). The past may be one of the components of the brand, but it should not become its basis. Such a method may work in very small towns, where there are no other options for branding. Branding can be done in different ways. The most frequent and widespread way of branding is placing in the city the unique art objects that would accelerate the process of city’s image formation. It is important to understand which way a brand is different from the simple recognition. Brand helps the city by forwarding it to the outside world; it allows accumulating the resources and maintaining active population. One of the important components of brand is city museums. For example, the Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art has not only changed the brand of Bilbao, but has also strongly influenced the regional culture (Visconti 2010, p. 516).
The city branding is performed for the outside world first, and only then for domestic consumption. It is important to understand that if the brand is not approved by the locals, it will unlikely go “out”. The last, but not the least, branding is mostly aimed at travellers. However, the effect on tourism is the most noticeable one and it is easy to calculate it (e.g. everyone who came to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao left in hotels a certain sum of money, left some more in restaurants, and so on (Visconti 2010, p. 516). It is significantly harder to calculate the effects of other, less visible but not less important components. Nevertheless, they exist and sometimes “speak” about brand more eloquent than any tourists’ expenses.
There exist many examples of successful branding. Among the most vivid and famous ones is Berlin. Berlin is a fantastic city that grows and becomes more and more alive. There is a belief that this city is the city of future, as it attracts many creative people. Despite the fact that in Berlin there are no such powerful museums, like the Louvre, it has become the third city in Europe in terms of tourism. Moreover, it is among the “weekend” tourism cities, when people from all over Europe come there just for a couple of days. The main drawback of Berlin is the lack of large businesses, but the city has managed to turn this into an advantage. Berlin is a place where you can spend your free time in a creative atmosphere without having to spend enormous sums of money. It is a great example of how the weak point of the city can be transformed into something attractive.
Architecture is both an art and a science of designing buildings and the very proper system of buildings that shape the spatial environment for human life and activities in accordance with the laws of beauty (Visconti 2010, p. 513). At the present stage of human development, architecture is one of the most important parts of the means of production (industrial architecture – building factories, power plants, etc.) and the material means of existence of human society (civil architecture – houses, public buildings, etc.). Its artistic images play a significant role in spiritual life of society and are considered the works of art. Accordingly, every building that constructs the city is the work of art. Nowadays, many cities are known not for their history or tasty food, but for extraordinary buildings that breathe with the spirit of history and art.
Street art is one more significant and influential phenomenon connecting city and art, while it cannot exist without the city that is its main source of creation and place of installation. It is a big mistake to believe that street art is graffiti on the walls only. Street art, bursting into the gray boring streets of industrialized cities became popular in the XXI century (Blackshaw & Farrelly 2008). Works of street art by contemporary artists have usually caused controversial feelings and emotions, either complete love or hate but never indifference. Usually, objects of street art glorify the city, decorate it, pardon eyes of the tourists and city residents. However, the world is full of false artists whose creativity disfigures the place and cannot be called art. Accordingly, the objects of street art are only those that make the city look better (although, objects of street art may criticize and highlight particular problems of the city, but just for the sake of city, to make it better) (Kaufman, McKee, 1997).
Street art has become extremely popular recently. The problem is that society accuses modern artists of vandalism, therefore, making them be discreet and go underground (Blackshaw & Farrelly 2008). Accordingly, there arises one more problem with this type of art – the distinction between street art objects and those that represent vandalism (Heinich, 1996).
Being the art of streets, this type of art speaks for itself. The main element that keeps street art alive is the street. The foremost purpose of this art is to decorate the city. Moreover, while bearing the aesthetic function, the object of art may contain a message from the artist. Street art presupposes citizens of the city and passers-by as its private audience (Blackshaw & Farrelly 2008). Majority of people believe that street art is limited with graffiti only when graffiti is a small component of this art. Indeed, any work of art created, constructed, painted in the street can be regarded street art.
First, the works of street art were recognized in New York in the late 1960s (Brown 2015, p. 268). The first works of street art were cumbersome inscriptions, such as “I was here”. In the 80s, this style captivates such artist experimenters as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joseph Kosuth, William Burroughs, Nan Goldin, Andy Warhol, and Lawrence Weiner (Brown 2015, p.268). Their street art works were collected and shown on the exhibition “PSI New York / New Wav” (Brown 2015, p. 268).
What concerns graffiti, this trend appeared in the mid-XX century, however, it was far from art (Blackshaw & Farrelly 2008). This type of street art was mainly used by gangs of New York and rock fans to identify the limits of their control. Nevertheless, in 80th, a new direction interested the critics, and, therefore, the masterpieces of many artists were presented on exhibitions (Cowick 2015, p. 30). Since then, graffiti has transformed into a recognized art.
The tradition to bring into existence urban environment bright accents in the form of art objects is extremely popular all over the world. In the paper, one will find the most interesting examples of such “art intervention”.
The genre of creation works of art intended to be placed on streets is called Public-art, and its spectrum is very wide. It could be a sculpture, an installation, a video projection, graffiti, and even a performance. As a rule, works of public art appear with the help of financial support of the city authorities, so that the number of street art objects on the streets of big cities depends on the openness of the latter to experiment.
Among the most advanced cities in the perspective of street art, one has to mention New York, London, Berlin and Vienna, where the creation of art objects somehow incorporated into the budget of any new large-scale construction.
To be honest, the objects of public art are not made forever. However, some of them are so important to the public that remain at their place for many years, gradually turning into landmark attractions. For example, the famous bean mirror by Anish Kapoor – the project “Cloud Gate” set in Chicago in the number of tourist photos can be compared with the Statue of Liberty (Richard 2009, p. 123). The sculpture “Love” by Robert Indiana gave its name to the park in Philadelphia and caused a wave of imitators around the world (Richard 2009, p. 123).
In New York, works of public art are found literally everywhere. There are so many of them that the city has already published several guides on the works of contemporary street art. Moreover, it is not the end, while every year the collection is enriched with new masterpieces, to the creation of which are attracted the best architects and artists of our time.
For example, in 2008 in New York City, there appeared magnificently lightened “Waterfalls” by Olafur Eliasson (Cornog 2001, p. 212). The principle of their operation is quite simple – water flows from the top-level facilities, similar to scaffolding and is fed by pumps. Two of the four waterfalls are located near the piers of Manhattan, the third – near one of the pillars of the famous Brooklyn Bridge, another – in New York harbor (Mcgarrah 2012, p. 41).
Some time ago, a giant cloud “hung” on Governors Island. The designer Jason Klimoski created it from bonded together 53,780 empty plastic bottles (Cornog 2001, p.212). The number 53,780 was not chosen by chance. The author of the project claims that this is the amount of plastic wastage thrown in New York in just one hour (Cornog 2001, p.212).
The installation constitutes a large pavilion, which the visitors can enter and feel from inside of the scope of the city’s cluttering. The famous Briton Thomas Heatherwick made public its draft for a new Hudson Yards area, which is built on a former rail yard site (Richard 2009, p. 120). While the theme of creation Heatherwick was not disclosed, it was known that the total budget for its creation is $75 million that are to be spent on the work itself and the creation of decent public space around it (Richard 2009, p. 120).
Berlin is not far behind New York and has become a city where fun modern art can be found literally everywhere. However, if one talks about their theme, then, as opposed to overseas colleagues, there is an absolute leader – the bear, the symbol of the German capital (Richard 2009, p. 120). Today, it seems impossible to find someone who had been in Berlin and not even once came face to face with brightly painted bear.
All in all, the total amount of bears in the city of Berlin is about 150 (Eyerman & McCormick 2006). The process of installing the bears started in 2002 when Berlin hosted the first exhibition of United Buddy bears (Eyerman & McCormick 2006). The bears painted by artists from different countries stood in a circle in front of the famous KaDeWe department store, holding their arms, urging the world to tolerance and lenience (Eyerman & McCormick 2006). Since then, the exhibition has visited all five continents, and “bearish fund” of Berlin continues to be replenished annually. Today, it is possible to meet bears, painted in the colours and symbols of individual cities and even corporations. In addition, Buddy bears turned into global ambassadors of Berlin – they stand near the German embassies around the world, and they are presented to Germany’s congener cities (Richard 2009, p. 120).
One of the first European cities that provided its streets for artists’ self-realization was Vienna. Starting “the art invasion” in the famous Museum Quarter, artworks quickly overstepped its boundaries, and today they can be found in the city center, and in relatively remote areas (Richard 2009, p. 120). In Vienna, there are more than 40 temporary and permanent public art objects scattered across the city – from monumental projects “Memorial of the Austro-Hungarian victims of the Holocaust” by Rachel Whiteread and “Ferryman” by Tony Cragg to modern media installations (Richard 2009, p. 120).
Netherlands do not drop behind the Austrian capital. The country is a place where numerous works of environmental design can be found in almost every town. Thus, the “architectural capital of Europe”, Rotterdam, is decorated with them at every step, and neighboring Hague holds an annual summer exhibition of sculptures (Sharp, Pollock & Paddison 2005, p. 1016). During the exhibition, works of modern sculptors are placed on both sides of the city’s main streets Lange and Korte Voorhout, and then leave for various parks and the waterfront (Sharp, Pollock & Paddison 2005, p. 1016).
Extremely generous with contemporary art are parks and streets of London, as well as its public spaces. For instance, close to Tower Bridge, one can see the half-dug into the ground ten-meter swimmer, and in the area of Park Lane there is an unusual monument in the form of the car, which reaches a child’s hand (Mclaughlin 2009, p. 144). The car, by the way, is not a toy and in its appearance and proportions corresponds to Fiat-500 (Mclaughlin 2009, p. 144).
In the district of Headington, a shark smashes straight into the roof of the apartment building. According to the sculptor’s idea, the composition is intended to recall that it is impossible to feel completely safe anywhere (Rosa 2015, p. 185). In July 2013, on the Street Mall in front of the British Council there was constructed a “White Horse” – a replica of the living horse named Red Riviera, which the artist Mark Wallinger scanned with a 3D-scanner and recreated in marble and resin (Rosa 2015, p. 185). Opened some time before, a new terminal Heathrow received its “calling card” from the sculptor Richard Wilson, who created for the largest airport in Europe the 78-meter “Screw set stream” of aluminum (Rosa 2015, p. 187).
Art as the Purifier of the City
Nowadays, the art in the city functions as a purifier, going back to its essential position, salutary to the city. One may notice a lot of charity exhibitions, events, concerts, etc. The program with the ambitious title “Art and the City” started its implementation in Zurich (Morgner 2014). Across the city in different, sometimes absolutely extraordinary places, there appear sculptures and installations by contemporary artists. The total cost of the project comprises 3 million CHF (Morgner 2014).
Since early June, the face of Zurich began to change gradually (Morgner 2014). The fact is that about 40 contemporary artists from around the world enriched and decorated the city with their works (Morgner 2014). They did not only bring their works of art, but also began to install them on the streets. The project “Art and the City” was initiated by the Department for Culture with financial support from private sponsors and galleries (Morgner 2014). The main task of the city is to become an open air museum, where everyone can get acquainted with the achievements of modern art on the way to work, school or kindergarten.
The festival program is impressive. During three months on the streets, mainly in the western part of the city, there are about fifty sculptures and installations. All the necessary information about the artists can be found on specially prepared stands. Twice a day, there are walking tours organized with the participation of employees of the city’s museums. On average, such a trip lasts about two hours. However, every person has the choice to learn the works of art by himself/herself on foot or by bicycle.
Festival organizers promise to award at the end of the festival with a special prize the artist whose work will receive the largest number of positive reviews from citizens. The work of the winner will remain in the city permanently, and become a part of its cultural space. The festival became a part of the recently adopted program on the transformation of Zurich into cultural capital of Switzerland (Morgner 2014). Not surprisingly, the “Art and the City” runs almost parallel to the famous Art Basel. Nevertheless, the organizers claim that they do not assimilate themselves to Basel, but hope to offer an alternative that will encourage the residents to change their attitude towards contemporary art (Morgner 2014). The festival is created as a fertile ground for the main purpose of organizers. Indeed, the fundamental difference between Art Basel festival is that it is primarily a fair, where everyone can buy a piece of art he/she likes (Morgner 2014). “Art and the City”, on the contrary, only creates a platform for further development.
On the “fertilization” of this cultural soil the organizers had to spend about 3 millions CHF (Morgner 2014). In fact, 700 thousand francs were allocated by the city, the rest donated by sponsors, chief among which was the construction company Mobimo, engaged in the construction and restoration of homes in the western districts of Zurich (Morgner 2014).
The festival’s slogan is to make every day in the city a holiday (Rosa 2015). This phrase in various forms is usually applied to the New York, Tokyo and London (Rosa 2015). Such philosophy of the festival, of course, gives an idea about the ambitions and aspirations of the city authorities. Since 2006, in Zurich, there was established and approved the project on support and development of creative professions. By 2015, the number of designers, artists, architects, writers and actors, constantly working in the city, comprised 10% of the total number of employees, which is approximately 33,000 people (Rosa 2015). Nearly 20 years ago in the city, there was no place to present the works of contemporary art (Rosa 2015). Although this summer, everyone can see the latest works of internationally recognized artists like Ai Wei Wei, Paul McCarthy, and Sisley Kzafa (Rosa 2015).
It should be noted that the appearance on the streets of the city of such unusual constructions will inevitably affect the attitude of its residents. Moreover, since most of the exhibited works are somewhat provocative, trying to destroy the settled view of the man in the street art and shake stereotypes, Zurich will become one of the most dynamic cities, if not in the world, then, at least, in Switzerland (Smith 2010, p. 374).
Art in the city, as well as city in the art, is playing an important political, educational, and even economic role. Depending on the function and the purpose the art plays, it can either glorify the city, improve it, criticizing its weak points, or disfigure it with improper and false works of art. The city inspires the artist, hosts, and creates the work of art, while art builds and glorifies the city. Accordingly, it is a truth universally acknowledged and obvious that both phenomena are intrinsically connected, functioning on behalf of one another. Nevertheless, the relationship between art and the city are not straightforward but bear a dualistic and ambivalent nature.