Which City Has the Most Spectacular Public Art?

Explore seven US cities that have embraced public art with extraordinary works that will leave you mesmerized.

Which City Has the Most Spectacular Public Art?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to the largest public art program in the country, Mural Arts Philadelphia, which has been contributing to the city's art for more than 35 years. The local government also supports this effort, as murals are a cost-effective way to improve the aesthetics of a city. They can be executed quickly and without permission from private property owners. Murals are an easy way to quickly create or foster a sense of culture and creativity in a city.

Across the United States, there are seven cities that have embraced the trend of murals and have extraordinary public works of art to show it off. Lexington, Kentucky is one such city, with several organizations that focus on adding street art to the city. LexArts is sponsored by the urban county government of Lexington-Fayette, which unites artists, businesses, neighborhoods and artists to create outdoor art. Every year, UBS and economist Clare McAndrew publish a report that analyzes the global art market.

This year, McAndrew has also published a second report dedicated to the role played by cities in the United States in the global art market. Despite representing 4 percent of what appears in the Wondeur AI database, “star artists were the subject of 47 percent of institutional exhibitions and 23 percent of exhibitions in commercial galleries” according to the report. Meanwhile, “emerging artists made up 84 percent of the database, but only 17 percent of institutional exhibitions and 36 percent of gallery exhibitions”. The report revealed that gender parity has not yet been achieved in these cities, and women's programs represent between 30 and 45 percent of the shows in each urban center surveyed.

Miami's star has grown over the past two decades due to Art Basel settling in nearby Miami Beach. Museums have built strong programming and have started opening more and more galleries across South Florida. Miami's risk appetite score was 74 for galleries and 48 for museums. The city's performance score was 17 for galleries and 33 for museums.

Chicago's risk appetite was 74% for galleries and 48% for museums. The city's performance score was 23 for galleries and 34 for museums. When analyzing gender breakdowns, Chicago museums scored the best for male artists (5) and the worst for women artists (1). Chicago galleries and museums also had the worst risk appetite scores for women artists, with 68 and 33 respectively. San Francisco has long been a city known for encouraging diverse experimental practices, nourished by key institutions such as SFMOMA, San Francisco Fine Arts Museums and San Francisco Institute of Art, as well as notable galleries such as Berggruen, Fraenkel, Jessica Silverman and Jenkins Johnson.

San Francisco's risk appetite was 74% for its galleries and 61% for its museums. The city's performance score was 16 for galleries and 16 for museums. Los Angeles has long been a key art center since the 1960s due to its group of major art schools which have attracted some of the country's best artists as teachers. In recent years, its profile has grown with the arrival of first-rate galleries, new private museums and an edition of Frieze art fair. New York's risk appetite score was 82 for galleries and 70 for museums.

The city's performance score was 21 for galleries and 36 for museums. When it comes to public art, Chicago stands out above other cities with its spectacular skyscrapers. Stroll through downtown Loop and see dozens of sculptures and other works such as Chicago Picasso - a 15-meter cubist sculpture that was once considered an eyesore but is now a beloved city landmark - or Joan Miró's large sculpture across the street or Marc Chagall's gorgeous mosaic of vibrant colors called “The Four Seasons”. But Chicago's most popular public art installation is Cloud Gate (also known as “The Bean”), whose reflective stainless steel curves have featured in many tourist photographs. Crouching, playing, reflecting, hugging and even throwing tantrums - hundreds of bronze figures in Oslo's Vigeland Park seem to capture every facet of human life. The literal highlight of Gustav Vigeland's 80-acre sculpture garden completed in 1940s is Monolith - a tower formed by interlocking bodies that stretches nearly 15 meters into the sky. Get ready to revel in some of the world's most spectacular public art! From Chicago to Oslo - these cities have embraced public art with extraordinary works that will leave you mesmerized.

Dwight Bhatnagar
Dwight Bhatnagar

Total food scholar. Coffee junkie. Incurable food enthusiast. General music trailblazer. Total musicaholic.

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