Public Art, as one can understand from written sources such as Ian Chilvers Oxford Dictionary of 20-th Century Art, can be defined as “ “.

Alternatively, the book “Art Speak” (1990) written by Robert Atkins, defines Public Art simply as “ “. The American Heritage Dictionary (2001 edition) has this to say about the subject: “ “

望月真一, Director of Japan’s Atelier Urban Design Research Institute, in a speech delivered at Taipei City Government in 1997, defined Public Art as follows; “ art works that have been installed in public and/or urban spaces (behavior, messages), specifically to achieve the elaboration of ideas, the construction of concepts or transmission of cultural information or behavior”.

In simpler terms, any open space where every person is welcome to participate in, utilize and enjoy artistic activity, behavior and/or facilities can be deemed “Public Art”. Public Art is necessarily an artistic object or activity located in a public place, but not all artistic objects or activities (for example, a painting from a gallery that has been re-hung in a public park) located in public spaces can be called Public Art. All Public Art is art, but not all art is Public Art.

Public Art is an integration of space, environment and human needs, a complement to the requirements of urban and social development that has been brought to fruition in a careful and contextual manner. An individual work of art simply installed in a public space can at best serve as ornament to the site. What is called Public Art is an act of creative assembly, with innate, complex technical and societal implications.
Public Art can be viewed as a societal process. It is often confused with Outsider Art, Community Art and/or Environmental Art. It is true that Public Art, Environmental Art and Space Art installations are essentially the same; it is simply the scale of the contribution of artistic character that sets them apart. According to the CCA’s operational definition “Public Art designates those works of art which are executed according to a legally defined process. Other installations, including those executed outdoors, and those donated by private groups or enterprises shall be classified as Environmental Art.”

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With the advent of the 1990’s and the raising of social consciousness, the “Establish Integrated Communities” movement in Taiwan gained momentum, and much of the prerogative for localized administration and action devolved to the public. The Public Art movement is very much a part of this trend, and projects of this nature have come to play a pivotal role in the formulation and expression of local character. The “Establish Integrated Communities” movement as promoted by the CCA is a policy initiative of considerable scope, as it emphasizes this devolution of cultural policy from the center toward local organs. The concept originated in 1993 with 文建會前主委申學庸 , and consideration of the important relationship between community and art; the following year, during a report entitled “Advancing Integrative Communities through XXXX”, XXX first propounded the policy of establishing integrated communities, with the stated objectives of facilitating local autonomy, and promoting cultural enterprise and activity.

Public Art is quite different from other types of art in that it stresses interactive aspects and seeks to generate mass appeal. The processes of integration and localization begin in the project’s planning stages with a discussion of subject matter, and involve input from local residents at all stages of execution.

Public Art has become an integrative force in communities in Taiwan. It provides residents with a means of artistic expression and allows artists more opportunity to interact with the general public, promoting both a deeper understanding of conceptual artistic thinking and greater community interaction. Community involvement and the general participatory level in Public Art projects in Taiwan mark it as distinct from the 菁英式 style more common in Europe and the USA. Community integration means establishing a community-oriented civic consciousness and cultural institutions. From this perspective, it is clear that Public Art ultimately shares the same objectives with the “Establish Integrated Communities” movement.


Public Art in Taiwan has made a great deal of progress over the past several years; policy and implementation goals have been reached, funding provided, and the program has helped to improve the qualities of living and environment for Taiwan’s residents. That being said, there are certain challenges facing the Public Art movement that need to be addressed.

According to Article Nine of the CCA , Public Art projects shall comprise no less than one percent of all public construction projects (MEASURE?).While it is now common to come across Public Art projects in urban areas, the question remains whether they truly fulfill the objective of beautifying the sites. In 2003, the county of Hualian held the “The Execution of Public Art and Society” forum, which concluded “Public Art is not a necessary focus”, and the country’s artistic accomplishments and better quality and environment of public use areas should be the priority targets, and therefore with art education receive more funding. In 2003, Ms. Huei Ting Chen performed research on international Public Art project funding, and concluded that the one percent budget cap had been made to work in a consistent and efficient manner, with little or no chance of cost overruns.

In 2002, Director Jo Li Chang of the Kaohsiung MRT Division was questioned by reporters from the Kaohsiung CBC about Public Art and the MRT system. His reply was that Public Art should not be defined in the narrow sense in including only specific types of artworks such as sculptures, but that the MRT project would broaden the definition to include the integrated structure and function of the stations. Indeed, he cited the O5/R10 Station as an example of Public Art in itself.

Adopting this type of perspective, it becomes clear that conflict need not exist between Public Art projects and Public Space planning and development. What is needed is a thoughtful, integrated approach. A more flexible interpretation of the Public Art regulatory environment will minimize inefficiencies and produce a more satisfying result, while preventing it from strangling the nascent Public Art movement on the island.


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