Did you know that there are several towns and cities across the world that feature work from famous artists? Right on the streets? That’s right, there’s no need to queue for an hour and pay 20€ to view a Picasso. Here’s a few places that feature priceless artwork that belongs to the people and is accessible to everyone.
MEDELLÍN AND FERNANDO BOTERO
Fernando Botero’s distinct sculptures tend to be exaggerated in volume. They’re voluptuous and big-boned. And it’s not just humans who fall victim to Boterismo. The artist loves to plump-up, dogs, cats, horses, historical figures and family members alike.
Located outside the Museum of Antioquia and the Rafael Uribe Palace of Culture in the Colombian city of Medellín is the Plaza de Botero. In 2004, Colombian artist Fernando Botero donated 23 sculptures to the city as well as several other artworks to the Museum of Antioquia after the Museum’s renovation.
Two other Botero sculptures can be found in Medillín’s Berrío Park and a couple more in San Antonio Plaza where two almost-identical bird sculptures sit side-by-side. The first Botero bird was blown up in a terrorist attack in 1995, killing 30 and leaving more than 200 people injured.
After the bombing, the Mayor of the city ordered the sculpture to be removed. Hearing of this decision, Botero called the Mayor and demanded that the sculpture remains where it is. The artist then donated another identical bird sculpture to be placed next to the disfigured one. Known as the ‘Birds of Peace’, the two friends look over their city and share stories. They talk of the past, the present and the bright future ahead.
In 1968, preparing for the upcoming political shift, Barcelona commissioned Juan Miró to design a mosaic for El Prat Airport. He not only accepted this commission but he donated three other works to welcome visitors by land, air and sea.
If you walk down the famous Las Ramblas street, you may walk over a large, colourful mosaic, known as ‘Pla de l’Os mosaic’, welcoming visitors that arrive from the Mediterranian. He designed a sculpture for Cervantes Park, which unfortunately was never built. The fourth gift was the Centre d’Estudis Art Contemporani, now known as the Joan Miró Foundation, which was to open the doors to the future and to international cultural exchange.
Pablo Picasso had also produced some street art for the city. On the facade of Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya located in the Gothic quarter is a cement facade depicting different scenes and events.
The story goes that Picasso was commissioned to decorate the facade of the building with drawings. It came to the night before the deadline and Picasso was drinking in a bar with his friends. Realising that he didn’t have any sketches or drawings to give to the commissioner, he scribbled down a drawing on a napkin. Whether or not that story is true is unconfirmed.
Commonly mistaken for a Miró, ‘El Cap de Barcelona’ was in fact designed by American Pop artist Roy Lichenstein, for the 1992 Summer Olympics. It was Lichenstein’s first outdoor sculpture and it’s said to refer to Gaudí’s famous mosaic style.
Speaking of Gaudí, wherever you go, you will come across the work of the Spanish artist. He had been commissioned to design a lamp post in Plaza Real when he first began his career. He also designed Park Guell (although it is now only free for local residents). What’s particularly notable about Gaudí’s work is that his designs aren’t restricted to the interior of the building. Every aspect of a building is meticulously considered in his creation. Therefore, you can pass by Sagrada Familia and view his art from the street.
On a side note: If you want to see a Botero sculpture but you can’t make it over to Colombia anytime soon, head to Barcelona’s Raval quarter where Botero’s Cat lives.
BRITISH SEASIDE TOWNS
Famous artwork overlooks the shores of British seaside towns all over the country. Tracey Emin, who is originally from the seaside town of Margate, made waves back in 2008 for the inaugural Folkestone Triennial. Titled ‘Baby Things’, the exhibition featured tiny bronze-cast items of baby clothing scattered around the Kent town. The inspiration came from the high percentage of teenage pregnancies in Folkestone. Unfortunately, the exhibition has only temporary but you can view the artwork on the Folkestone Triennial website.
British street artist Banksy has repeatedly expressed his feelings towards the accessibility to art. He’s even built a name for himself decorating streets for everyone to enjoy. Like Tracey Emin, Banksy has added some of his artwork to Folkestone. Titled ‘Buff’, the piece depicts an older woman wearing headphones, staring at an empty plinth. In order to protect the work, a transparent sheet has been placed over the work.
The seaside town of St.Leonards also features a Banksy mural. Appearing in 2010, the artwork was painted on the side of a concrete set of steps that leads down to the beach. The mural features a small child wearing sunglasses and building sandcastles, each one includes the word ‘TESCO’ (TESCO is a British supermarket chain). This isn’t the first time Banksy has referenced the supermarket giant in his artwork. In 2005 he unveiled the Tesco Value ‘Soup Can’ print – a nod to Andy Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup’. In 2011 he released a commemorative souvenir poster featuring a Tesco Value petrol bomb in the wake of Bristol riots. The riots were triggered when a Tesco Express store opened, despite protests from residents.
It’s impossible to miss Damien Hurst’s sculpture located in the seaside town of Ilfracombe in Devon, Hurst’s home-county. The stainless steel and bronze statue, titled ‘Verity’, was erected in 2012 and stands 20.25-metre’s tall on the Ilfracombe harbour. The statue depicts a pregnant woman, standing on a pile of books, holding a sword to the sky in her right hand and carrying the scales of justice in the other. Half the sculpture shows the internal anatomy of the woman, including the foetus.