Site-specific art  

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Site-specific art is artwork created to exist in a certain place. Typically, the artist takes the location into account while planning and creating the artwork. The actual term was promoted and refined by Californian artist Robert Irwin, but it was actually first used in the mid-1970s by young sculptors, such as Patricia Johanson, Dennis Oppenheim, and Athena Tacha, who had started executing public commissions for large urban sites (see Peter Frank, “Site Sculpture”, Art News, Oct. 1975). Site specific environmental art was first described as a movement by architectural critic Catherine Howett (“New Directions in Environmental Art,” Landscape Architecture, Jan. 1977) and art critic Lucy Lippard (“Art Outdoors, In and Out of the Public Domain,” Studio International, March–April 1977).


Outdoor site-specific artworks often include landscaping combined with permanently sited sculptural elements (Site-specific art can be linked with Environmental art). Outdoor site-specific artworks can also include dance performances created especially for the site. More broadly, the term is sometimes used for any work that is (more or less) permanently attached to a particular location. In this sense, a building with interesting architecture could also be considered a piece of site-specific art.

Artists producing site-specific works include Michele Oka Doner, Sir Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore, David Smith, Isaac Witkin, Anthony Caro, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Richard Haas, Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Louise Nevelson, Leonard Baskin, George Segal, Tom Otterness, Roy Lichtenstein, Olafur Eliasson, PINK de Thierry, Sol LeWitt, Dennis Oppenheim, Max Neuhaus, Robert Smithson, Andy Goldsworthy, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Dan Flavin, Archie Rand, Richard Serra, Olga Kisseleva, Michael Heizer, Patricia Johanson, James Turrell, Ana Mendieta, Athena Tacha, Alice Adams, Nancy Holt, Rowan Gillespie, Scott Burton, Robert Irwin, Marian Zazeela, Guillaume Bijl, Betty Beaumont, Albert Vrana, and younger artists like Eberhard Bosslet, Mark Divo, Leonard van Munster, Luna Nera, Simparch, Sarah Sze, Stefano Cagol, and Seth Wulsin. In Geneva, Switzerland, the two Contemporary Art Funds of the City and the Canton (FMAC and FCAC) are looking forward to integrate art into the architecture and in the public space since 1980 . The Neons Parrallax was conceived specifically for the Plaine de Plainpalais whose perimeter, located at the heart of the City, the challenge of the artists invited was to transpose the advertising stakes of the commercial signs of the harbour in artistic messages.

Site-specific dance is also created to exist in a certain place. The choreography is generated through research and interpretation of the site’s unique cultural matrix of characteristics and topographies, whether architectural, historical, social and/or environmental; discovering the hidden meaning in a space and developing methods to amplify it. Some artists make a point of commissioning music created by a local composer especially for the dance site. Indoor site-specific artworks may be created in conjunction with (or indeed by) the architects of the building. Choreographers who have made site-specific contributions to the field of dance include Trisha Brown, Meredith Monk, Ann Carlson, Stephan Koplowitz, Joanna Haigood, and Mark Dendy, among others. Contemporary choreographers working primarily in site-specific dance include: Noémie Lafrance; Third Rail Projects;Andrea Haenggi/AMDaT; Tamar Rogoff; Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre.

Site-specific performance art, site-specific visual art and interventions are commissioned for the annual Infecting the City Festival in Cape Town, South Africa. The site-specific nature of the works allows artists to interrogate the contemporary and historic reality of the Central Business District and create work that allows the city's users to engage and interact with public spaces in new and memorable ways.

See also

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