Site Specific Art

May 25, 2009 at 11:12 am (Uncategorized)

Site Specific Art is a term used to refer to art that has been designed and created with a specific site in mind. Usually the artist will has researched the location, and created something either relevant to the history, backdrop, or space, incorporating these thoughts or concepts into the work. Therefore on many occasion the work does not work, and will not be intended to be seen in any other location. The term ‘Site Specific Art’ was coined by Robert Irwin, although it was used by many a young artist in the 1970’s including Lloyd Hamrol and Anthea Tacha.

Site specific art when outside often incorporates the landscape, much like land art, as well as taking on any artistic form; performance, sculpture or 2D image. The artwork may be permanent or temporary, in a public space to be seen by thousands or secluded to be witnessed by none. With such a rich variety of variables the only link between all site specific art is that; the site being important/considered.


Francoise Davin is a French artist who has devoted his career to creating site specific art. He felt that this was the only way for contemporary art to reach the general public, and found that his projects were hugely popular in drawing communities together to help him create something spectacular. Such as his work “Golden Tree of Broceliande” one of a series of ‘conjured up’ mythical works, where Davin had 250 helpers, many of whom were farmers who helped him clean and carry a burnt dead chestnut tree half a mile back to the forest after guilders had offered their services in covering the tree in gold leaf.

“All of them gave their services, not for monetary consideration, but for the pleasure of being a part of something surreal.” – Fancoise Davin

This work above is titled ‘Le blues de l’escalier’ which translates as the blue on the stairs.  I really liked this as it reminded me of the title ‘pleasure lines’. The site specefic work we looked at around bristo square. Except this is a pleasure line for water, exactly where it would want to go and where it ends up. I like the way it puddles around the pavement light before ending up in the drain. This work is the kind that the public could appreciate as it is not so deep that you would have to be a genius to enjoy it, I can imagine children having fun following the path of water much as you would do a river. I have a vivd memory of following a trail of milk right down my street that must have came from a split carton. There’s a sense of adventure and mystery there.

Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83


For this work, which could also be described as Land Art, Christo and Jean-Claude used 6.5 million square feet of floating pink fabric to encircle eleven islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Surrounding Islands required the help of hundreds of people, seamstresses, contractors, engineers as well as extensive consultations with marine biologists and orthologists. For the work to look its best, the artists removed 40 tonnes of rubbish from the islands, so ultimately the environment benefited and I’m sure this probably raised the issue with the public.


The work was aimed to put the islands in to bloom, conjuring connotations with tropical plants and birds, parrots or flamingos. After three days the work was finished and it remained on display for two weeks.

Joy Taylor

flight 2

This work, titled ‘Dream for Flight’ by Joy Taylor was made using oversized foil leaves and is displayed at Albany International Airport. I like this work, it is described as the leaves are looked apon as falling, but I believe the that does not make a whole lot of sense given the title and the fact that this is an airport and the last thing the management was to do is remind passengers they might fall!

No, I think the leaves have taken off in a gust of wind, a momentary breath of new life and flight and then they gently float back down. I like the round gateway that the leaves are elevated towards, as though that is their escape, as what so many people seek in an airport. They either want to fly away from their life’s stresses and troubles or they just want to get the hell out of the airport regardless!

I admire the simplicity of this piece, no great complexity of materials, or no huge team of helpers was required yet the work and it’s surroundings complement each other perfectly.

flightflight 10


1 Comment

  1. gordondouglas said,

    I typed in site-specific art into google images and your picture of the paint thing came up WOW

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