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Site-specific Installation

During the 1960s, artists became increasingly interested in the physical contexts of their art-making and in how these contexts can modify and complicate the artwork's perception. This gave rise to the concept of site-specific art, which is created to exist in a particular place or location and is often designed to interact with or alter the physical and cultural context of its surroundings.

Richard Serra
Tilted Arc, 1981 at Federal Building Plaza, New York (removedin 1989)
Steel
365.7 x 3657.6 x 30.45 cm (144 x 1440 x 12 in.)
Courtesy of Richard Serra
Photo: Anne Chauvet

Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, installed in a public plaza in Lower Manhattan in 1981, is a famous example of site-specific art. The piece was commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration's Art-in-Architecture Program and the National Endowment for the Arts. The installation caused controversy in two folds, and was eventually removed in 1989. Firstly, it was too big and considered an aesthetic and practical hindrance. Secondly, some saw it as a waste of taxpayer’s money in the name of elitism. Serra argued that "to remove the work is to destroy the work," as it was designed specifically for the plaza.

Site-specific art is related to the Land Art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which sought to create works that engaged with the natural environment. Land artists created large-scale, site-specific works in remote, natural settings by using materials found on location. Land art pieces were often ephemeral and created to interact with the landscape in a specific way, allowing viewers to experience the artwork and its natural setting in a distinctive way.

Site-specific art is related to the Land Art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which sought to create works that engaged with the natural environment. Land artists created large-scale, site-specific works in remote, natural settings by using materials found on location. Land art pieces were often ephemeral and created to interact with the landscape in a specific way, allowing viewers to experience the artwork and its natural setting in a distinctive way.

Daniel Buren
Les Deux Plateaux, 1985-86 at courtyard of the Palais-Royal, Paris
Marble and concrete
© Daniel Buren / ADAGP, Paris

Related categories

Mixed Media

Media Art

Installation

Transformation

Scenes of Everyday Life

Bronze

Relationship Between

Perception

Social Relations

Large Scale Installation/Sculpture

History/Historical Approach

Architectural Structure

Public Art

Surrounding Environment

Minimalism

Participatory Art

Art of the 1960s

Human Relationship

Public/Private

Praise for Nature