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ART adores a vacuum. That’s why styles, genres and mediums left for dead by one generation are often revived by subsequent ones. In the 1960s and ’70s public sculpture was contemporary art’s foremost fatality — deader than painting actually. The corpse generally took the form of corporate, pseudo-Minimalist plop art. It was ignored by the general public and despised by the art world. At the time many of the most talented emerging sculptors were making anything but sculpture. Ephemeral installations, earthworks and permanent site-specific works were in vogue, and soon the very phrase “public sculpture” had been replaced by public art, an amorphous new category in which art could be almost anything: LED signs, billboards, slide or video projections, guerrilla actions, suites of waterfalls. But over the past 15 years public sculpture — that is, static, often figurative objects of varying sizes in outdoor public spaces — has become one of contemporary art’s more exciting areas of endeavor and certainly its most dramatically improved one.

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