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By Malcolm Miles

This ebook examines public paintings outdoors the conventional confines of artwork feedback and locations it inside broader contexts of public house and gender by means of exploring either the cultured and political facets of the medium.

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Art, space and the city : public art and urban futures

This ebook examines public paintings outdoor the conventional confines of artwork feedback and locations it inside broader contexts of public area and gender through exploring either the cultured and political points of the medium.

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Lynch writes, at the beginning of a chapter on ‘City Models and City Design’, that ‘Design decisions are largely based on models in the head of the designer’ (Lynch, [1981] 1984:277) which suggests a conceptual level of operation, yet limits its scope to the mind of an individual designer, as if designers functioned in a realm of free choices, without questioning received conventions, structures of power or the relative roles of professionals and users in determining city form. He makes several observations on the axial networks of the Baroque city: ‘a simple, coherent idea that can be rapidly employed in a great range of complex landscapes’, ‘a strategy for the economical application of central power’, ‘a workable strategy for opening up an existing circulatory maze’, and notes its defect in causing traffic congestion at the nodal points (Lynch, [1981] 1984: 281–3), all of which are statements about the mechanisms of the city, as if such mechanisms (and statements) could be ideologically neutral.

Suzi Gablik sees Richard Serra as setting up a win—lose, dominator—victim model of the artist’s situation, and cites Barbara Rose in making a case that Serra’s work is the product of a heroic and belligerent ego, proposing a world view which denigrates (feminine) empathy and relatedness to others (Gablik, 1991:63). Histories from which women are excluded are more than narratives of men’s works, being the development of masculine attitudes to life, through role models and definitions of what achievements are worth recording.

With space on the other hand are aligned the other poles of these concepts: stasis, (‘simple’) reproduction, nostalgia, emotion, aesthetics, the body. (Massey, 1994:257) Lefebvre is concerned to reclaim space as experiential as well as conceptual, to turn, perhaps, the contradiction into a paradox, and he asks if there is a logic to space, whether it has limits, and where it meets its first obstacle, such as a ‘residue resistant to every analytic effort’ (Lefebvre, [1974] 1991:292–3); from ‘peasant’ society he takes images of the body, the home and the village with its fields, beyond which is strangeness, and the beginnings of a spatial organisation of the included and excluded which can be both tacitly known and represented, both concrete and social, mental and abstract.

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