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Women Artists Who Impact Our Public Spaces Through Art

History has always been reflected and visualized through art. It is therefore no surprise that some of the most famous sculptures are reason alone to visit a city, spark heated debates on a global scale or travel the world as a symbol of motherhood. In this article, SINGULART would like to shine a light on a few of these important installations in public spaces around the world. 

Niki de Saint Phalle – Stravinsky Fountain (1982), Paris, France

On the Place Stravinsky right next to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, one can admire this artwork. The whimsical public fountain showcases sixteen works of sculpture that represent the works of the composer Igor Stravinsky. There are sculptures that move and spray water, mirroring the melodies of the music. The black mechanical pieces of Jean Tinguely juxtapose beautifully the colorful works of Niki de Saint Phalle

Saint Phalle was a French-American sculptor, painter and filmmaker known for her outspoken political views on social issues. Born 1930 in France she is most known for her many easily recognizable sculptures that can be found around the world. Especially her relationship both personal and artistic with Swiss kinetic artists Jean Tinguely inspired the artist to create many of her iconic artworks. 

Hayat Nazer – Statue of a women (2020), Beirut, Lebanon

Hayat Nazer in front of her Sculpture and the port of Beirut. ©Museum Week

The Lebanese artist built a statue of a woman on the remains after the explosion at the port of Beirut. The statue faces the site of the blast and at the feet of the woman a clock, showing the time of the explosion: 6:08 pm, lies. This statue marks the one year anniversary of the start of the nationwide anti-government protest movement. 

While helping clean the city of the debri from the explosion, the artist started to collect broken pieces and glass, because she did not want them to just be destroyed but saw the possibility of a creation within them. She started building a statue of a woman because she wanted to show what women go through, it’s a woman who is beautiful but in pain and who has been broken so many times but still stands strong. 

Hayat Nazer was born 1987 in Tripoli, Lebanon and studied graphic design and communication. Only a few years ago did she fully embrace an artistic life and started creating paintings and sculptures. 

Rosenclaire – Soap Boxes (2003), Cape Town, South Africa

Soap Boxes (2003), Rosenclaire ©Boodman Gallery

The accomplished duo of women artists Rosemarie Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky, also known as Rosenclaire, have created this public installation for the Iziko SA National Gallery. The duo runs their own school and residency program in Tuscany, Italy and have represented South Africa numerous times in the south of Europe. 

The two bronze boxes sit next to the steps of the gallery, turning the typical public art approach on its head – they are platforms, podiums to debate, perform and for silent protests. An interactive display of art in public spaces to encourage the voice of whomever steps onto them. 

Born in the 1950s the artist duo live and work between Florence, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Rosenclaire share their ideas and work collaboratively on independent projects that often are critical, playful and enthusiastic. 

Kristen Visbal – Fearless Girl (2017), New York, USA

Kristen Visbal with Fearless Girl ©Twitter

This bronze sculpture was commissioned by the State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), an asset management company to showcase their relatively high percentage of women among senior leadership. Four years ago on March 7th 2017, the sculpture was installed in anticipation of the following day, the celebration of International Women’s Day. This 1.20m Statue of a little girl symbolizes female empowerment. 

The statue was placed facing down the infamous Charging Bull Statue by Italian artists Aruro Di Modica which symbolizes Wall Street and the Financial District. Controversy broke as the artist Di Modica said in an emotional press conference that the girl was “attacking” the bull and thus changing his message. The bull was a symbol of a booming economy but with the presence of the girl, the animal got drawn into a gender and diversity statement. So the Girl was removed in November 2018 and relocated across from the New York Stock Exchange building. But a plaque with footprints was placed on the original site of Fearless Girl

Fearless Girl and Charging Bull ©Flickr

The American artist Kristen Visbal was born in Montevideo Uruguay in 1962 and studied art, fine art and sculpture at Salisbury University. Fearless Girl is her most notable work.

Louise Bourgeois – “Maman” (1999)

This bronze and stainless steel sculpture that is over 10m high and 9m wide depicts a spider and is one of the world’s largest installations in public spaces. The artwork is lovingly titled “Maman” which is French for Mummy and thus the sculpture includes a sac containing 32 marble eggs. There are 7 permanent installations around the world, including the Tate Modern in London, UK, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in South Korea. 

The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.” – Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois was born in France in 1911 and was a French-American sculptor, painter, and printmaker. Her body of work explored different topics from domesticity and family to sexuality and the human body. She also reflected on death and the unconscious in her art. 

Julieta XLF – “El Abrazo” (2016) Cromàpica, Spain

“El Abrazo” (2016), Julieta XLF ©Julietxlf

Julia Silla, a.k.a. Julieta XLF was born 1982 in Valencia, Spain and is best known for her whimsical murrials showcasing women surrounded by nature. The work in a public space discussed here is called “El Abrazo” or “the Hug”, a symbol for the love of life according to the artists. It should showcase respect for the environment we live in and for the planet that gives us the air we breathe. Julieta XLF wants to draw attention to the cause to reconnect with mother Earth. This work can be found in a small neighborhood called “Valliviana”, “Vall i vana” means the barren valley, as in not cultivated. Thies creates an impressive juxtaposition to the colorful artwork filled with flowers. 

Julieta is a world renowned street and graffiti artists whose works can be found all around the globe in major cities. She has a Master’s degree in Illustration and Fine Arts from the San Carlos, Polytechnic University of Valencia.