Examples of Temporary Public Art


There are two main types of public artworks that are growing in today’s cities, these are, temporary and permanent public artworks. Public art comes in many types, including graffiti, sculptures, statues and even decorations around the city.

Public art can be either permanent or temporary depending on the type of art and it’s purpose in the landscape. Artists throughout the world invest in art that conveys deep meaning not only to people but the city as a whole. The public space around the art is illuminated and highlighted until the art is located in the certain space.

This article will highlight some examples of temporary artworks that are currently influencing the global public art space:

Roof Garden Commission in MET, USA

In the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City, there are temporary installations every year for around six months, that convey numerous meanings and associations with the landscape around the museum, including central park and many other buildings. These installations are called The Roof Garden Commission.

The Met Breuer

The artists who are selected at MET ponder deeply about how to influence the landscape surrounding the museum. The latest art that is located in MET for the roof garden commission is Parapivot by Alicja Kwade which is a provoking temporary installation that shows the alignment of the planets and people’s relation to the Earth and the Universe. This art fosters self realisation and each individual’s place in the world.

The art is carefully placed in the terrace of the museum where viewers can see the skyline of New York City including the backdrop of the huge central park. If you want to see more information on MET’s unique installations, which change every year, you can refer to the website.

Kochi Muziris Binnale, Kochi, India

Closer to home in Kerala, is the Kochi Muziris Binnale which is a recent exhibit from artists around the world to create temporary artworks around the city of Kochi. Many artists were chosen to create street art, sculptures and other forms of art around the city for various purposes. The art drew the attention of the public and gave a fresh new look for the city. The artists were supported and funded by the art gallery in Kochi.

Kochi Muziris Binnale, Kochi, India

One interesting project was a ‘Box of Documents’ that signifies commercial enterprise and creates arts on forts, historical landscapes and temples around the city.  Old buildings were also a part of the project, as many dilapidated buildings in the city of Kochi were used to create art and highlight the presence that was once there in the public space.

The art space also received a lot of international acclaim and drew many people from around the world to explore Kochi’s public art spaces. This space including many well known artists from around the world, leading to a secular environ of more than 40 communities.

Related: The growing culture of street art in India

Trafalgar Square, London 

Probably one of the most reputed locations for temporary public artworks and a very central space in the heart of London is Trafalgar Square. This space is a synergy between people, artworks, events and a culmination of thought and action. There is a different artwork in the Fourth Plinth of the Trafalgar Square every two to three years, influencing people on a daily basis.

Trafalgar Square, London 

One of the most famous artworks in Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth was a giant blue Cockerel which was created by the German artist Katharina Fritsch. The artist chose a cockerel to convey a variety of meanings to the public and challenging the notion of masculine/feminine with the hen being a male figure and the artist being female. The changing notion of females who were traditionally thought to be only in the household arena is also portrayed through this Cockerel.

It is conventions such as this which is challenged and highlighted by public art. This artwork was also a bit controversial in many aspects in the public arena and ignited a lot of debates in London and throughout the world. To keep updated about the various public artworks in Trafalgar Square you can visit their website.

Related: How to explore public spaces?


There are many symbols portrayed through temporary public art. Unlike a permanent sculpture, which can be explored at any time and forms as a part of the landscape for many decades, a temporary artwork influences the public space and the city landscape only for a short period of time, depending on a few months to a few years. One has to be present in the location at the time of the temporary artwork to fully understand the presence of the public art.

It is becoming more of a norm in 21st century to display temporary public art works so that people understand that change is a constant part of the city, just as in life. This is a growing phenomenon in today’s cities including in India. Street art has becoming famous in many Indian cities from New Delhi in the North to Bangalore in the South.

It can be expected that this trend will only keep continuing in the future generations to come, as the art world gains more recognition and growth in today’s cities.

Related: Examples of Art in the Urban Streetscape, Public Sculptures can make an Impact on People

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