Course syllabus




Public Art: Issues and Controversy

SEMESTER 1 and 2, 2018

30 points

Course Convenor and Teacher:

Robin Woodward


Course delivery format:

2 hour class session Tuesday 1-3pm in 206-214 (Arts 1, Room 214)

 Summary of Course Description:              


ARTHIST 706 Public Art: Politics and Process


This course examines the politics and process around modern and contemporary public art and monuments, predominantly sculpture. Topics include: the challenges of public space, patronage, issues of nationalism and cultural identity, memorialisation (eg, war and Holocaust memorials) and the urban environment. Issues and controversies around international case studies and local practice are studied in relation to works such as Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North, The Fourth Plinth and the Princess of Wales memorial in Hyde Park. Examples of public art are considered in relation to theories of place and space.

The first semester of the course focuses on the theory of public art and on international case studies. This semester can be taken as a single semester 15 point paper (ARTHIST719).

The second semester of the course focuses on public art in New Zealand. A history of the modern revival of public art is outlined, and particular attention is paid to work in Wellington (often billed as ‘the city of sculpture’) and Auckland. Topics include major outdoor art events such as headland Sculpture on the Gulf and the biennial Sculpture in the Gardens at the Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens in Manurewa. The abundance of accessible public sculpture parks in the Auckland region is discussed, including Brick Bay Sculpture Park and Connells Bay. Foremost of these is Alan Gibbs’ world renowned The Farm, where a private zoo of exotic animals and a collection of World War II army tanks and machinery complements a vast landscape of outdoor object and land art by major international sculptors such as Maya Lin, Richard Serra and Andy Goldsworthy.

 Course outcomes:

A student who successfully completes this course will have the opportunity to:

  • acquire knowledge of art historical styles and apply it
  • understand and carry out visual and contextual analysis
  • acquire skills in report writing, critical thinking, academic literacy , written and oral presentation.

 Assessment Summary:

Weighting of assignments and due dates

25% Seminar due in the mid-semester break,  Wednesday 4 April midday

40% Essay due in week 12,  Friday 8 June midday

25% Case Study due in 2nd semester, Monday 3 September midday

10% Participation


Weekly Topics:

The weekly programme can be accessed on Canvas under Modules.

Course information, bibliography and resources such as power points can be found on Canvas under Modules.


 Recommended Texts:

These will be indicated and discussed in class


 Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 30 point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks.

Course summary:

Date Details