With the strong belief that art should be made more accessible to everyone, we are always fascinated and impressed by the exciting public art pieces that are being created all over the world.
The value and need for public art are becoming more and more evident. To showcase this, we wanted to share with you this selection of incredible public art installations, curated by our Creative team, that have caught our attention in 2021.
Studio Proba’s colourful sculptures, Penique’s massive pink balloon and ENESS interactive rainbow arches reminded us how art is essential to bring some brightness in people’s lives.
The Arc de Triomphe, which was wrapped by the Christo and Jeanne-Claude team, and Yinka Ilori’s takeover on billboards sites nationwide in England inspired us to always believe in our dreams.
Esmaa Mohamoud’s public artwork Double Dribble has once again proven the power of art to convey strong and powerful messages.
The 25-meter high installation of SpY in a public square in Madrid has warmed our hearts but has also made us aware of our responsibility towards environmental issues.
In the same way, Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest impacted us, a memory of germination, vegetation, and abundance and a harsh symbol of the devastation of climate change.
Olivier Grossetête’s suspended bridges that have been moving from city to city in Europe for years have inspired us to bring communities together as it’s locals who build these wonderful floating works together.
Xomatok’s prismatic murals of 13 staircases in Peru and Es Devlin’s luminous rotating and kinetic cube in UAE wowed us as a great reminder of how the celebration of cultural history is crucial.
And finally, the large-scale installation by Abraham Cruzvillegas, made from 23 species of medicinal plants, inspired us to take care of ourselves.
We invite you to discover these artworks in more detail 👇
Early December, visitors at this year’s Design Miami event were welcomed by Tomorrow Land, a public installation by Portland and Brooklyn-based Studio Proba that has transformed the Miami Design District into an interactive playground bursting with candy-like colours, organic shapes and quirky patterns.
The installation consists of 21 large-scale elements that range from totem-like sculptures to whimsical seating arrangements, filling the streets with palpable joy and optimism. The installation is on view until May 2022 with a selection of sculptures that will remain permanently.
Studio Proba website
📷 Kris Tamburello
The amazing centrepiece of 2020 UAE National Day celebrations in Abu Dhabi – a luminous rotating cube called The Seed – became a temporary public artwork from December 14 to January 30, 2021.
The installation is the work of renowned British artist and set designer Es Devlin, known for melding light, video, language and music in her spectacular creations.
Visitors could witness the work of kinetic art in action, with projections relating to the UAE’s history and acknowledgement of frontline workers in the Covid-19 pandemic, with narrations from a Filipina nurse and an Emirati policeman sharing the experiences and challenges they faced. Voices of Maj Hazza Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first astronaut, and Chaica Al Qassimi, an Emirati Special Olympics martial arts athlete, were also played.
In July 2021, Penique was invited to be part of Ex Abrupto Contemporary Art Festival 2021, a one-day festival in Moià, a historical little town in the middle of Catalonia, Spain.
Penique productions installed their famous inflatable artwork in the street, contained by the facades of the street that surround it. The pink balloon blocked the main street where most of the festival artworks were concentrated.
The installation functioned as a gateway to a new reality, a beautiful escape to wonder.
Penique Productions website
📷 Eduard Morato Vila
In September 2021, the Sky Castle has made its home in Sidney, Australia.
This ethereal symphonic work changes colour as visitors move through its luminous arches. Light and music have been specially orchestrated to inspire joy and hope in people as they flow in and out.
The arches are designed to reflect a rainbow — and to bring a spot of brightness to the city after its tough experiences during the pandemic, just like rainbows do after storms.
Yinka Ilori is a London-based multidisciplinary artist who specializes in storytelling by fusing his British and Nigerian heritage to tell new stories in contemporary design.
The Buildhollywood family of Jack Arts has collaborated with Yinka Ilori for the Your Space Or Mine project on a national scale in some cities to inspire and remind us all to keep going and keep dreaming especially during these challenging times.
Colourful, provocative and fun, each piece he creates tells a story. Ilori delivered bold, sharp and impressive works, blistering concatenations of colour, pattern and form that took over flagship poster and billboard sites nationwide in London, Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Mohamoud’s practice often interweaves the commodification of Black athletes with the history of transatlantic slavery, and Double Dribble raises questions about who is allowed to gather and play in public and who isn’t. Either through urban planning that removes public courts or fenced-off fields, more active kinds of policing that use racially motivated loitering laws, or the cordoning-off of basketball hoops under the pretext of enforcing social distancing.
The site of the installation, a recently redesigned public park built beneath a contentious elevated highway that runs through downtown Toronto, helps to underscore the ways that the rules of the city landscape, like the rules of the game, make bodily movement both urgent and prohibited. Double Dribble was created during Summer 2021.
Extending along the central promenade of the park leading up to The Bass museum entrance in Miami, Agua dulce, a large-scale sculptural installation, encompasses nearly 14,000 square feet.
Commissioned by The Bass, the project brings the artist’s philosophy of autoconstrucción or “self-construction,” a practice of resilience and generosity, to The Bass’ Collins Park. Utilizing numerous species of flora, fauna and mineral, performers mimicking native birds, and seating that the artist constructed with locally sourced materials, Agua dulce forms a plant environment in front of the museum, free for the public to enjoy.
Through collaborative research with local experts on native flora, Cruzvillegas selected around 23 different species to create the installation of more than 1,000 plants. Many of the included species, like the Salix Caroliniana (Coastal Plain Willow), have medicinal properties and are regularly used by the Seminoles (Native American people of Florida), introducing notions of care and restoration to the installation. On view until April 2022.
Abraham Cruzvillegas website
📷 Zaire Kacz
L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, a temporary artwork in Paris, was on view for 16 days from Saturday, September 18 to Sunday, October 3, 2021. The Arc de Triomphe was wrapped in 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene fabric in silvery blue, and with 3,000 meters of red rope.
In 1961, three years after they met in Paris, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began creating works of art in public spaces. One of their projects was to wrap a public building. When he arrived in Paris, Christo rented a small room near the Arc de Triomphe and had been attracted to the monument ever since. In 1962, he made a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped, seen from the Avenue Foch and, in 1988, a collage. Sixty years later, the project was finally brought to life.
Per Christo’s wishes, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was completed by his team after his death.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude website
📷 Jared Chulski
SpY presented an artistic project made up of a luminous red sphere caged inside a cube-shaped structure, constructed with the type of scaffolding normally used on building sites.
These two simple geometric elements (sphere and cube) form a large-scale construction that stands almost 25 metres high and has been installed in Plaza de Colón in Madrid.
This powerful visual statement is accompanied by a bright red light emanating from inside the sphere, from which one can almost feel the heat transmitted by the concept of the work.
There have always been changing climate conditions and the Earth is constantly evolving. However, as a consequence of human activity, these changes are happening over a very short period of time and have resulted in worrying alterations.
SpY asks the viewer to propose dialogue and actions that will contribute to improve collective awareness through a value system that can turn this situation around. The challenge we all face is to take small individual steps to improve and contribute to our sense of shared responsibility.
📷 Ruben P Bescos
Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest, a towering stand of forty-nine haunting Atlantic white cedar trees, is a commissioned public artwork that took place in Madison Square Park from May 10 to November 14, 2021. Lin brought her vision as an artist and her agency as an environmental activist to this project, a memory of germination, vegetation, and abundance and a harsh symbol of the devastating effects of climate change.
The height of each tree, around forty feet, overwhelmed the human scale and stood as a metaphor for the unimaginable impact of a looming environmental calamity.
Maya Lin website
📷 Andy Romer
Temporarily seen hovering above small European towns or balancing on a river in floating canoes are elaborate bridges designed to be constructed and demolished in a matter of days. The ongoing work of Olivier Grossetête, the cardboard-and-tape pieces are entirely hand-built by the French artist and local residents.
Each ephemeral installation, which Grossetête refers to as “utopian building(s), temporary and useless,” appears for only a day or two before it’s taken down and the public is asked to stomp on and destroy the cardboard. While they’re on display, the architectural works are often tethered between hot air balloons and existing buildings, which makes them appear dream-like as they float above the urban landscape.
Xomatok’s latest work is the prismatic murals, similar to the Andean textiles of incredibly lively colours across 13 different super long staircases that spread across the hills of Lima.
His prismatic murals look like handwoven Andrean blankets that cover already impressive pathways through the Alisos de Amauta neighbourhood. Xomatok took the two months he spent in Lima to collaborate with other artists and residents with the goal to transform the public staircases into permanent public artworks.
The spectrum of energetic colours that Xomatok used celebrates the Peruvian cultural history and ended up being a truly beautiful process of making art.
📷 Jeremy Flores