L'ART PUBLIC CONTEMPORAIN - Toute une histoire

L'ART PUBLIC CONTEMPORAIN - Toute une histoire (1970-2020)

After tracing out the boundaries of public art and highlighting the uniqueness of that creative domain in my latest book, Introduction à l’art public contemporain / Introduction to Contemporary Public Art, I felt the need to illustrate my theories with real examples.


This new book, entitled L’art public contemporain / Contemporary Public Art, is both the culmination and completion of that work.  

It presents more than a hundred unique works of art created for public space, intentionally chosen from various countries, across different continents. It spans half a century, from 1970 to 2020. Those dates are anything but arbitrary. The phenomenon of contemporary public art soared to new heights in the 1970’s, and the period of fifty years that has since passed gives us enough perspective to reveal the importance of public art and construct its history.

I have chosen these works as examples, mainly for their capacity to translate the general spirit of an era and its most significant trends. Classifying them chronologically highlights those changes.

Though public art fulfills different objectives in cultural politics and urban development, its fundamental challenge lies within the artistic process itself. To me, the real inquiry is a question of the artists’ motivations, the goals they pursue and results they obtain. All of that is a part of art history. That is the vision I want to focus on here.

The story I tell is first and foremost the history of the commitment of artists in the field of public space. I wanted to emphasize the active role they play.  

The artwork itself tells so much about society, people, culture and the memory of a place. Because these projects bring art into a creative sphere where the main challenge is to enrich socially significant public space, the best way to understand them is to focus on content.

This book presents works so different that at first sight they may not seem to belong to the same category or have any connection to one another. Public art brings them together through a common, shared vision of the role of art and artists in society.

Hervé-Armand Béchy



© Hervé-Armand Bechy