Stephen Bayley

The Spectator declares war on bad public art

Stephen Bayley announces the launch of The Spectator’s inaugural What’s That Thing? Award for the worst piece of public art of 2015

Like peace, love and lemon-meringue pie, ‘public art’ seems unarguably attractive. Who but a philistine curmudgeon would deny the populace access to the immediate visual thrills and the enduring solace of beauty that the offer of public art seems to promise?

Public art is surely a democratic benefit. Never mind that in the past century its most forceful expression was the grim and malignantly deceitful narratives of Soviet socialist realism, with their ruddy-faced, grinning and buxom tractor drivers disguising a more real reality of starvation, intolerance and torture.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in