Plop art  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Plop art is a pejorative slang term for public art (usually large, abstract, modernist or contemporary sculpture) made for government or corporate plazas, spaces in front of office buildings, skyscraper atriums, parks, and other public venues. The term connotes that the work is unattractive or inappropriate to its surroundings - that is, it has been thoughtlessly "plopped" where it lies. Plop art is a play on the term pop art. According to, plop art was coined by architect James Wines in 1969. The derisive term was eagerly taken up both by progressives (like Wines) and by conservatives. Progressives were critical of the failure of much public art to take an environmentally-oriented approach to the relationship between public art and architecture. Conservatives liked the term because it suggested something ugly, formless, and meaningless, produced without any real skill or care. The very word "plop" suggested something falling wetly and heavily in the manner of excrement - extruded, as it were, from the fundament of the art world, and often at public expense.

More recently, defenders of public art funding have tried to reclaim the term. The book Plop: Recent Projects of the Public Art Fund, celebrates the success of the Public Art Fund in financing many publicly placed works of art over the last few decades, many of which are now beloved, though they may at first have been derided as "ploppings". Several currents or movements in contemporary art, such as environmental sculpture, site-specific art, and land art, counterpose themselves philosophically to "plop art," as well as to traditional public monumental sculpture.

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