The term public art properly refers to works of art in any media that have been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all. The term is especially significant within the art world, amongst curators, commissioning bodies and practitioners of public art, to whom it signifies a particular working practice, often with implications of site specificity, community involvement and collaboration. The term is sometimes also applied to include any art which is exhibited in a public space including publicly accessible buildings.
In recent years, public art has increasingly begun to expand in scope and application — both into other wider and challenging areas of artform, and also across a much broader range of what might be called our 'public realm'. Such cultural interventions have often been realised in response to creatively engaging a community's sense of 'place' or 'well-being' in society.
Such commissions can still result in physical, permanent artworks and sculptures. These also often involve increasingly integrated and applied arts type applications. However, they are also beginning to include other, much more process-driven and action-research based artistic practices as well. As such, these do not always rely on the production of a physical or permanent artwork at all (though they still often do of course). This expanded scope of public art can embrace many diverse practices and artforms. These might be implemented as stand-alone, or as collaborative hybrids involving a multi-disciplinary approach. The range of its potential is of course endless, ever-changing, and subject to continual debate and differences of opinion among artists, funders, curators, and commissioning clients.
A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an aesthetic physical item or artistic creation. Apart from "work of art", which may be used of any work regarded as art in its widest sense, including works from literature and music, these terms apply principally to tangible, portable forms of visual art:
Used more broadly, the term is less commonly applied to:
This article is concerned with the terms and concept as used in and applied to the visual arts, although other fields such as aural-music and written word-literature have similar issues and philosophies. The term objet d′art is reserved to describe works of art that are not paintings, prints, drawings or large or medium-sized sculptures, or architecture (e.g. household goods, figurines, etc., some purely aesthetic, some also practical). The term oeuvre is used to describe the complete body of work completed by an artist throughout a career.