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, acquired, or presented. See a more expansive list of aPA projects here.
Maja (1942, cast 1947; purchased and exhibited 1949; installed c. 1954-1992; reinstallation March 2021), Gerhard Marcks
Liberty Bell (July 2020 – July 2021), Nancy Baker Cahill (Commissioned by Art Production Fund with 7G Foundation and Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, hosted in Philadelphia by the Association for Public Art)
Winter Fountains (December 2017 – March 2018), Jennifer Steinkamp (Presented by the Parkway Council and commissioned by the Association for Public Art)
Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies (September 14 – October 8, 2017), Cai Guo-Qiang (Commissioned by the Association for Public Art with Guest Curator Lance Fung of Fung Collaboratives)
Big Bling (2016; installed 2017), Martin Puryear (Presented by the Association for Public Art, commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy)
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
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.
- The Labor Monument: Philadelphia’s Tribute to the American Worker (2010), John Kindness
- Common Ground (2009), John Stone and Lonnie Graham in collaboration with Lorene Cary
- Manayunk Stoops: Heart and Home (2006), Diane Pieri
- I have a story to tell you . . . (2003), Pepón Osorio
- Embodying Thoreau: dwelling, sitting, watching (2003), Ed Levine
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. Each artist was asked to give meaning or identity to a place, to probe for the genius loci, or the “spirit of the place.”
- Pavilion in the Trees (1993), Martin Puryear
- Fingerspan (1987), Jody Pinto
- Louis Kahn Lecture Room (1982), Siah Armajani
- El Gran Teatro de la Luna (1982; reinstalled 2012), Rafael Ferrer
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.
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.
International Sculpture Garden
The International Sculpture Garden was conceived by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) in the 1960s as part of the anticipated U.S. Bicentennial celebration. The open-air installation celebrated and demonstrated the impact of other cultures on the American experience, with a focus on ancient and ethnographic artworks. “Each individual piece,” the Association noted, “should not only be typical of that nation’s heritage, but should also be of the highest quality.” The sculpture collection includes a group of significant objects from diverse cultures. The Art Association acquired and installed the garden’s sculpture collection over several years.
Since its 1976 dedication, the garden’s site has undergone many changes. In 1992, Venturi Scott Brown and Associates’ Columbus Monument, a 106-foot-high obelisk, was erected at the north end, and a hotel now also occupies a portion of that section. Conditions surrounding the garden have changed dramatically in recent years, leading to a reconsideration of the existing garden site. In anticipation of the potential relocation of the International Sculpture Garden, most of the sculptures have been removed for conservation treatment and placed in storage.
- Five Water Spouts and Lintel (12th-13th century)
- House Post (Totem) (1850)
- Mangbusucks (1695)
- Nandi (1500)
- Spheres (300-1525)