Most twentieth-century art is produced privately (initiated solely by the artist himself) and becomes public information later. Once the art object exists and gets circulated beyond an intimate audience that the artist can control, it enters the domain of public knowledge. Some artists accept, others resist, this diffusion; resistance obligates them to a programme of curatorship to reduce the proliferation of unanticipated readings. Oldenburg is an example of an artist who considers variable interpretations inevitable and Stella, who has displayed a development that claims evolutionary coherence at each step, is an example of the effort to exclude free readings by closing his work as he goes. In this sense the problem of 'going public' faces every artist, but the term public sculpture means something more specific. It refers to art that is intentionally public from the outset, designed to occupy an unregulated site (by which I mean a place outside gallery, museum, or park limits).
The nineteenth century closed the tradition of public sculpture and the twentieth has not established one. A part of the success of nineteenth-century monuments came from the artists' capacity to draw on extra-artistic fields of knowledge. They could represent a hero, a personification (of a virtue or a city), memorialize an individual or a battle, without any scarcity of legible signs. The choice of classical robes, ceremonial dress, or modern clothes, for example, all held iconographical meanings that were easily available in non-esoteric literary sources as well as in baroque or classical prototypes. In addition to an accessible iconography the public sculpture of the last century usually maintains a sense of scale that makes it visually distinct even in cluttered sites. Hence the clarity of iconography was equalled by a clarity of human contour and gesture. In earlier Documentas when the park was used for sculpture the eighteenth-century figures along the ruined wall of the Orangerie were always more coherent and readable against the sky than the Moores and Picassos and the rest of the hardware below.____________________