Heather Dimarco

What is Site Specific Art?

leave a comment »

What is Site Specific Art? Site Specific art is an art work created to exist in a certain place. Taking location into account while planning the work. Site local position – The place or position occupied by the some specific thing. Frequently implying original or fixed position.  The term public art properly refers to works of art in any media that has been planned and executed with a specific intention of being sited or staged in the public domain. 

When I first began to research what site specific art is I simply thought it was an art work created with a specific site in mind however I now believe there are many forms of what people consider to be site specific art. Is it still Site specific if the art work can be moved but has to still be in a similar environment to the original site?


I believe Richard Serra’s The Tilted Arc to be one of the most important pieces of site specific art, installed in 1981 at the Westside plaza, New York it generated much controversy. There was a public hearing to determine whether it should be relocated however Serra stated “To move the work from its site is to destroy it” and would remove his name from it if done so. This decision prompts a lot of questions in my mind about public art, an increasingly controversial subject: The role of the public in determining the value of an art work, and whether public art should be judged but its popularity.


Tilted Arc, New York by Richard Serra

“I don’t think it is the function of art to be pleasing. Art is not democratic. It is not for the people to decide”.  Richard Serra


Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin 1971-95 and the Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris 1975-85

Christo and Jean Claude’s works are mostly site specific as without the original site in mind when considering what the art work is there would be no art work. They use there art work to compliment the surroundings not detract from it.  Im still unsure if an art work can be moved from its original site to another of similar properties and still be site specific, As Fred Sandback did at his exhibition at the fruit market gallery in Edinburgh.

Sandback’s work is important to the history of modern and contemporary art. Although his exhibition at the fruit market gallery was not exactly site specific his sculptures engage closely with the architecture and atmosphere of its location. The viewer not only is involved with the work itself but with the way in which it alters the experience in a particular space.


Andy Goldsworthy and Richard long are both artists who use nature’s resources to make there are work. Dandelion line by Goldsworthy is a work in New York however if that piece was say move to another field full of dandelions in Europe would it still be Site Specific? Well yes and no I think it would have to be as it is specific to that site but as it is not in its original site does it lose its meaning.

This now confuses what I originally thought of Site specific however I still believe for it to be truly site specific the art work cannot be move from the original site as if it were it would lose its meaning and purpose but I am open to debate as whether this is always the case and I think it will be discussed by many for a long time yet as is no clear definition to me of what Site Specific art is to me





Written by heatherdimarco

August 28, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: