Commission

The Association for Public Art (aPA) explores new directions in public art to give broader perspectives to the public environment and greater opportunities for artists.

The aPA’s work in public spaces has continuously evolved over time in response to current art making practice, and we often develop projects around specific themes or goals that advance community needs or civic issues that otherwise would not be addressed.

Over the years, the Association for Public Art (aPA) has commissioned, purchased, and placed an imposing selection of sculpture in various settings throughout Philadelphia.

These artworks parallel the history of American sculpture, ideals, and patronage and include historic masterworks by Alexander Milne Calder, Alexander Stirling Calder, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Frederic Remington, and Daniel Chester French; modern sculptures by renowned artists Paul Manship, Jacques Lipchitz, Isamu Noguchi, and Henry Moore; and contemporary works by Martin Puryear, Siah Armajani, Mark di Suvero, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Candy Coated, and Roxy Paine. Thanks to the efforts of the Association and other public art agencies, Philadelphia boasts one of the largest collections of public art of any American city.

Our work in public spaces has continuously evolved over time in response to current art making practice, and we often develop projects around specific themes or goals that advance community needs or civic issues that otherwise would not be addressed. The aPA explores new directions in public art to give broader perspectives to the public environment and greater opportunities for artists. Explore the tabs on this page to learn more about our recent commissioning programs and projects.

Below is a list of some of the recent public artworks that the Association for Public Art (aPA) has commissioned or acquired. To see a more expansive list of aPA projects, see the “aPA Initiated Artworks” filter of our Interactive Map.

 

A woman walks by Mark di Suvero's monumental Iroquois sculpture
Iroquois (1983-1999) by artist Mark di Suvero. Photo Gregory Benson © 2007 for the Association for Public Art.

AMOR (1998; installed 2015), Robert Indiana (Presented by the Association for Public Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Magic Carpet (2014), Candy Coated

Symbiosis (2011; installed 2014), Roxy Paine

Rock Form (Porthcurno) (1964, cast #1/6; installed 2012), Barbara Hepworth

OPEN AIR (2012), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

The Labor Monument: Philadelphia’s Tribute to the American Worker (2010), John Kindness

Common Ground (2009), John H. Stone and Lonnie Graham in collaboration with Lorene Cary

Iroquois (1983-1999; installed 2007), Mark di Suvero

Manayunk Stoops: Heart and Home (2006), Diane Pieri

Embodying Thoreau: dwelling, sitting, watching (2003), Ed Levine

I have a story to tell you… (2003), Pepón Osorio

Ed Levine's "Embodying Thoreau" hut in Pennypack Park
Embodying Thoreau: dwelling, sitting, watching by artist Ed Levine. Photo Gregory Benson for the Association for Public Art.

New•Land•Marks: public art, community, and the meaning of place

New•Land•Marks: public art, community, and the meaning of place was a program of the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) that brought together artists and community organizations to plan and create new works throughout Philadelphia. Proposals incorporated public art into ongoing community development, urban greening, public amenities, and other revitalization initiatives. These efforts celebrated community identity, commemorated “untold” histories, and offered visionary, yet reasonable, ways to invigorate public spaces.

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El Gran Teatro de la Luna by Rafael Ferrer
El Gran Teatro de la Luna by artist Rafael Ferrer. Photo courtesy Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

 

Form and Function

To bridge the gap between public art and ordinary life, the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) initiated the pioneering program Form and Function in 1980. The aPA invited artists to propose public art projects for Philadelphia that would be utilitarian, site-specific, and integral to community life – works that would be integrated into the public context through use as well as placement.

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Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial.
The Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial on Kelly Drive. Photo Caitlin Martin © 2010 for the Association for Public Art.

 

Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial

The Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) established and maintains the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial (1933-1961) on Kelly Drive. The Memorial is comprised of three terraces and seventeen sculptures that were commissioned over a period of thirty years. To identify the sculptors, three Sculpture International exhibitions were held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, bringing together the works of hundreds of sculptors from the United States and abroad. The sculptures in the Memorial are all emblematic of the history of America, and created by well-known artists such as J. Wallace Kelly, Helene Sardeau, and Jacques Lipchitz.

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Light Up Philadelphia image: Krystof Wodiczko's "Proposal for City Hall Illumination."
Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Light Up Philadelphia proposal for illuminating City Hall tower. Photo Rick Echelmeyer © 1987.

 

Light Up Philadelphia

In 1985, the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) launched Light Up Philadelphia, a study of the potential for creative urban lighting. Five artists  – David Ireland, Phillips Simkin, Leni Schwendinger, Mierle Ukeles, and Krzysztof Wodiczko – created proposals that suggested creative means to increase residents’ and tourists’ sense of security, encourage mobility and enjoyment of the city’s resources after dark, emphasize sculptural and architectural treasures, and increase local pride in neighborhoods and commercial districts.

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Sculpture of the International Sculpture Garden at Penn's Landing
Sculptures included in the International Sculpture Garden, now in storage. Photos © Association for Public Art.

 

International Sculpture Garden

The International Sculpture Garden was conceived by the Association for Public Art in the 1960s as part of the anticipated U.S. Bicentennial celebration. The open-air installation celebrates and demonstrates the impact of other cultures on the American experience with a focus on ancient and ethnographic artworks. With the artworks now in storage, aPA is working with the DRWC to find a new, suitable location for the collection in the Penn’s Landing area where it can meet its potential as an outstanding and unique public landscape.