After writing my last article on public art on December 30th I discovered street art and I wondered what the difference was between the two.
Public art is usually commissioned by an art gallery or other commisioning bodies and created by specifically picked artists. Street art is basically art created by any artist not sanctioned by a gallery or commissioning body of some sort. Street art can include traditional graffiti, sculpture, stencil graffiti, or guerilla art. Street art is created by the artist to attempt to have their work communicate about socially relevant themes, or in other words, a protest of some sort.
But public art can do the same and use the same mediums. Public art and street art are both out in the public within easy access for anyone to see and enjoy. Ah, so what is the difference? And do we care?
Art is something expressed by one person and shared with other persons. The artist creates it out of some inner demon or ‘have to do it’ impulse, much like writers, while the people who see the art get caught up in their own defining moments while looking at the sculpture or painting. Public art and street art do the same thing. They create a visual picture that will affect the person looking at it with some sort of emotion.
If the art is created to challenge the existing environment with a message to the people about some sort of social relevant theme, then by that definition you can say that all art does the same thing.
Art is in the eye of the beholder whether it comes from a spray gun on the side of a building or the brush strokes on a painting that hangs in a gallery.
To my mind there is really no difference between the two except the artist who is commissioned is paid money to create the work.