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Arts feature

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

28 February 2015

9:00 AM

28 February 2015

9:00 AM

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.

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Email your candidates for the worst piece of public art of 2015 to publicart@spectator.co.uk. The shortlist for the inaugural What’s That Thing? Award will be announced at the end of the year. A winner will be chosen early next year. Stephen Bayley, who launches ‘What’s that thing?’, The Spectator’s prize for bad public art, is the author, among other things, of A Dictionary of Idiocy and Charm: A Victim’s Guide.

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