Recently, I stumble upon the work of German artist, Ottmar Hörl , as an example of an alternative method to support and produce public art. Rather than seek the approval and funding on the local art’s establishment, the artist seeks agencies more engaged in civic celebrations or tourism. Less artist evaluation and more excellent public relations and photographs. Fun and colorful are important qualities. ( I am not discussing the “parades” which is organized by non-profits or cities, not artists. Surprising to me, the parade idea is only 17 years old. 1998 in Zurich )
The elders of the alternative funding of public art are Seward Johnson (85 years old) and Christo (80 years old). For many years, Seward Johnson has been leasing his sculptures for public places. The “celebrating the familiar” series is comprised of lifesize painted bronze figures engaged in slightly odd activities. His giant reproductions of famous iconic media moments in American culture include the VJ Day Kiss in Times Square and Marilyn Monroe’s rising dress from “Seven Year Itch”. These figures are guaranteed to appear on the local newspaper front page and local TV news.
Christo supports his public works by selling parts of the installation ( umbrellas and gates), original drawings and limited addition prints in the gallery system. Additional income is gained from royalties earned in the sale of unlimited edition posters on the open market for $25-$100. Of course Christo receives a great deal of civic support in the form of volunteers, permits, police and promotion. And he, unlike Johnson and others, is firmly part of the art establishment that assist with the permissions. Johnson is frequently hated by the local art establishment that believe the display of Johnson’s work lowers the standards for artistic quality.
Below are a few other
Cracking Art Group Plastic Snails In addition to rental fees, the group sells for $350 the 21 inch tall snail and up to $2500 for large plastic animals.
Rubber Duck and Rabbits by Florentijin Hofman Since Sao Paulo in 2008, the duck has floated in 13 cities. The posters sell for $50-200 bucks. Amazon sells $38 dollar stuffed duck and $4 greeting cards.
Friends with You. Lease inflatable installations and buy toys. The older toys were available on amazon for for $8 -15 each. Recently they are only selling through galleries and art organizations.
Montreal Music Swings 21 Balançoires Art group: Daily Tous Les Jours. Knight Foundation may provide matching funds to tour in USA.
Jen Lewin, The Pool, Since developed for Burning Man in 2009, Lewin has presented in The Pool in 25 cities. The rental fee, installation and transportation can be more that $50,000.
Film Producer, Taylor TR Gourley has created a few civic event, but Slide the City has been a dramatic success in just two years. He earns money by selling the “slide” for $20 a single ride and he frequently sells out with online sales prior to installation.
Back to Horl. He produces installations of hundreds of meter-tall plastic figures. The figures are generic and resemble plastic, plastic or resin miniatures of famous people or animals that might be sold in a gift shop at a historic site or catholic church. He also makes genomes that firmly locks part of his artistic investigation in the realm of bad taste or lower class aesthetics – or irony about them.
In the past few years, Hörl has made installations honoring the birthdays or anniversaries of significant figures including Karl Marx. Richard Wagner, Martin Luther, Charlemagne and Goethe. Others are symbols such as the Berlin Bear or Hessian Lion. Fairly tales and teddy bears arrive in plastic, too. http://www.ottmarhoerl.de/
The hundreds figures, animals and fictional characters are generally repeated on a grid to create a field or carpet. These fields of little men or creatures are located on a plaza or lawn adjacent to a building or place related to the subject matter.