The Esthetic Ghetto: Some Thoughts about Public Art, May/June 1974

Amy Goldin, “The Esthetic Ghetto: Some Thoughts about Public Art,” May/June 1974

Neither popular art nor mass art claims to mirror reality or to tell the whole truth. Perhaps because of that, we tend to separate them from the mainstream of the fine arts, where nothing less “ultimate” is admitted. That mainstream tends to be defined by public art—by such things as religious art, ruler portraits, history painting and war memorials (an enormous category of objects going back to Sumerian reliefs). Public art was once the major category of artistic production. (Private art was domestic—the furniture, decorations and pots and pans of the home. The distinction between public art and “minor art” goes all the way back.) Public art in the past dominated Western esthetics, forming our ideas of what was essential and normal for high art. Yet today, public art is so discredited by its association with propaganda and advertising that artistically respectable examples of it are hard to find. In effect, we have almost no art that addresses us as citizens of the public world. Why?

Amy Goldin, “Morris Louis: Thinking the Unwordable,” Art News, April 1968
Amy Goldin, “The Sculpture of George Sugarman,” Arts Magazine, June 1966
Written by Amy Goldin in 1972, this short essay entitled “Rugs” was never published.