Public artwork allows an artist to share their love of art with the common man. Here are four of the best public artworks from around the world that you don’t need to pay to view.
East Side Gallery (Berlin, Germany)
In many ways, the Berlin Wall represented the worst of humanity. Running through the city of Berlin, the wall divided a nation, separated families, and plunged East Germans into a Communist abyss. When the wall came down in 1990, it was only fitting that some parts of the wall that remained standing to be converted into an art gallery. At the heart of modern-day Berlin lays a 1.3 km long stretch of the Berlin Wall, featuring artwork from over 100 artists. Although a lot of the work was vandalized during the 90s, restoration specialists have ensured that the East Side Gallery continues to be a source of inspiration and hope for future generations.
The Burghers of Calais (Various Locations)
Auguste Rodin is one of the most revered artists in the world of modern sculpture. Although a number of his artworks are bona fide classics, The Burghers of Calais is perhaps the shining jewel in the glittering crown that was his career. Cast in bronze, the figures capture the pain, anguish and selfless heroism that would have been displayed by the six burghers out to face death after the surrender of Calais to King Edward III, during the Hundred Years’ War. Although the English Monarch spared the lives of the burghers, their selfless deed was significant enough to be transformed into sculpture by Rodin. The original still exists in Calais, with replica casts in place at 12 other locations, including Copenhagen, Tokyo, New York, Seoul, Philadelphia, Paris, and the Smithsonian in Washington DC. The Burghers of Calais, at the Victoria Tower Gardens in London, was declared by The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones to be the best work of public art in Britain.
Park Guell (Barcelona, Spain)
As far as works of public art are concerned, it doesn’t get any bigger than an entire housing complex. Antoni Gaudi, one of Spain’s most celebrated artists, took over an abandoned housing site in the Gracia district of Barcelona and transformed it into Park Guell. The Catalan artist had an entire housing complex at his disposal and certainly made good use of it. The colonnaded pathways, in particular, stand out as one of the defining architectural features of Park Guell. UNESCO has declared the municipal park a World Heritage Site.
Cloud Gate (Chicago, USA)
In a city renowned around the world for its architecture, creating a distinct piece of public art can be quite a challenge. British sculptor Anish Kapoor managed to stave off competition from a number of different artists and had his design chosen as the centerpiece for the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park, Chicago. Consisting of over 168 stainless steel plates, Cloud Gate, or The Bean as locals like to call it, has a surface with a seamless finish thanks to extensive polishing. A popular tourist attraction, Cloud Gate has featured in a number of movies and has become an icon for the city of Chicago.
Anyone, who claims that you have to pay to get into a museum to see quality paintings and sculptors, clearly never took a look at these stunning pieces of public artwork.