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208 × 156 mm
288 pages
80 illustrations
16 Apr 2018

Sculpture in Gotham Art and Urban Renewal in New York City Michele H. Bogart

Public sculpture is a big draw in today’s cities. Nowhere is this more the case than in New York, where urban art has become synonymous with the municipal ‘brand’, highlighting the metropolis as vibrant, creative, tolerant, orderly and, above all, safe. Sculpture in Gotham tells the story of how the City of New York became committed to public art patronage, beginning in the mid-1960s. In that moment of political turbulence, cultural activists and City officials for a time shifted away from traditional monuments, and joined forces to sponsor ambitious sculptural projects as an instrument for urban revitalization.

Focusing on specific people, agencies and organizations, and both temporary and permanent projects over the decades since the 1960s, Sculpture in Gotham reveals the changing forms and meanings of municipal public art. It illustrates how all this happened at a time when art theories and styles were changing markedly, and when municipalities were reeling from racial unrest, economic decline and countercultural challenges to culture and the state. Connecting public art activity to agendas of urbanism, Sculpture in Gotham offers new contexts for tracking national cultural trends through the exploration of one specific locality. It also provides a new understanding of civic activism and collaboration as a cultural force in urban America.

‘Through telling the story of how people, organizations, agencies, and government helped transform New York from a city of traditional monuments to one committed to public art and sculptural projects in service of urban revitalization, Bogart sheds light on the impact of civic collaboration over the last fifty years.’ – Public Art Review

‘Michele Bogart’s Sculpture in Gotham traces the politics behind public art in New York City from Robert Moses’s conservative restraint in the 1960s to the City’s commitment to a role as art patron by 2000 and beyond. Bogart illuminates the history of women’s rise in the cultural sphere; new urban agendas promoted by developers and city agencies; the impact of Mayoral administrations; the back history of the Percent for Art law; the Arts for Transit program; and the formation of nonprofit art organizations advocating for site specific sculpture, especially temporary pieces. Bogart tells this fascinating story in phenomenal detail and vibrant clarity.’ – Elizabeth Goldstein, President, The Municipal Art Society of New York

Sculpture in Gotham is a fast-paced story of New York’s 50 year public art revolution, moving from commemorative statues to The Gates in Central Park.  In the mix are visionary leaders, artists, and the changing role of government and philanthropy, all described with drama and insight.’ – Ronay Menschel, public art advocate, Deputy Mayor/Executive Administrator, City of New York, 1978-82, and founder of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Arts for Transit program.

‘Documents five decades of advocacy, political intrigue, and the “fundamental humanness of NYC’s cultural bureaucrats,” also chronicling the extraordinary persistence of the almost all- female leadership of the public art movement, birthed in the 1960s by Doris Freedman.’ – Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development, The Trust for Public Land, New York

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Michele H. Bogart is professor of art history and criticism at Stony Brook University, New York. Her previous books include Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890–1930 (2nd edn 1997), Artists, Advertising, and the Borders of Art (1995) and The Politics of Urban Beauty: New York and Its Art Commission (2006).

1 The Moses Era
2 Towards Transiency [AQ: Transience?]
3 The Economic Development Model
4 The City of Yes
5 The Authority of Authorities
6 Enrichment, Affirmation, Order

Photo Acknowledgments