Bizarre, Wacky & Awesome: Public Art Around the World

Published June 10, 2015
Updated February 26, 2018
Anish Kapoor Public Art

“Orbit,” a futuristic public art concept by Anish Kapoor. Anish Kapoor

Art (literally) comes in all shapes, sizes, mediums, and perspectives. Similarly, public art fulfills a variety of purposes: it brings color to dark cities, visually comments on important social issues, creates conversation between people and their surroundings, and entertains both locals and tourists. No two pieces are quite alike, as much of the art is in direct conversation with its surroundings. But don’t take our word for it. Here are some of the world’s most intriguing, beautiful, bizarre and historic public art installations:

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Public Art by Ervin Loranth Herve
Designed by artist Ervin Loranth Herve, "Popped Up" was revealed in Budapest, Hungary as a highlight of the region's international art fair. Source: Bored Panda

Public Art Canada
This colorful city artwork was installed by artist Jose Luis Torres. Source: Les Passages Insolites

Public Art in Australia
This mall in Melbourne welcomed spring with a colorful installation of umbrellas. Source: Weekend Notes

Mehmet Ali Uysal
While this massive clothespin looks like it's pinching the grass of this Belgium park, it's really just an illusion. Source: Shellvpower

Oliver Voss Germany
Oliver Voss installed this bathing beauty in Alster Lake, Germany. Measuring in at more than 13 feet tall, it was hard to miss while it was on display. Source: Breaking In

Japanese Robot Public Art
Standing at about 60 feet tall, this Gundam Robot sculpture was erected in Tokyo park, Japan. Source: Yahoo

Janet Echelman Public Art
Artist Janet Echelman creates aerial sculptures like this one as an attempt to bring softness to harsh, hard cities. Source: Sijalica

Fountain of the Virtues
The Fountain of the Virtues was created back in the 16th century. While it has great cultural and historical significance, it's also a bit... odd. Source: Flickr

Located in Los Angeles, this iconic installation by Chris Burden has appeared in a number of movies. Source: Ari Cox

Yarn Bombing Public Art
Even with the help of four assistants, it took Olek two days to cover this Polish train in yarn. "Yarn bombing" is a specific type of public art in which the artist crochets or knits in a public space. Source: Open City Projects

Palo Alto Public Art
What's ordinary in the daytime becomes magical at night. "Brilliance" was designed by Joe O'Connell, and features multilingual sayings. Source: WBUR

Eggcident by Henk Hofstra
Designed by Henk Hofstra, it's easy to see how this art installment got the name "Eggcident." Source: Wooster Collective

Denver Airport Horse Statue
Colorado natives love to hate this red-eyed, anatomically correct mustang statue that's displayed outside the Denver International Airport. Source: 12160

Blue Bear Public Art in Denver
On the other hand, this 40-foot-high sculpture of a blue bear received a much warmer welcome when it was installed in downdown Denver, Colorado in 2005. Designed by Lawrence Argent, the sculpture brings color to an otherwise drab street. Source: Artists and Thieves

Awesome Public Art Alabama
Bill Fitzgibbons was commissioned by city officials from Birmingham, Alabama to spruce up an abandoned underpass. He went above and beyond, creating this awesome Art Deco masterpiece. Source: This is Colossal

The Thumb Public Art in Paris
Cesar Baldaccini's thumb sculpture in Paris frequently tops lists of the world's most bizarre public art. "Le Pouce" (aka "The Thumb") weighs more than 18 tons and protrudes 40 feet into the air. Source: Windy Sky

Art by Alexander Calder
This modern sculpture, dubbed "Flamingo," was designed by artist Alexander Calder. You can find it in Chicago, Illinois. Source: Glasstire

Australian artist Konstantin Dimopoulos painted these trees in Seattle as part of his international project titled, "The Blue Trees." The project attempts to draw more attention to deforestation and its impact on our world. Source: Pride in Photos

Digital Orca Sculpture
Douglas Coupland's "Digital Orca" brings joy (and tourists) to Vancouver, British Columbia. Source: Wikipedia

Spoonbridge and Cherry
Claes Olderburg is known for creating large-scale renditions of ordinary objects. "Spoonbridge and Cherry" was erected in Pennsylvania in May 1988. Source: ArtsConnectEd

Piss Fountain Prague
Found in the Franz Kafka museum in Prague, it's easy to see how this sculpture got the name "Piss." Source: Tripomatic

Klaus Weber Fountains
London loves "The Big Giving," which was designed by Klaus Weber. The sculpture features a number of men and women spewing water from various body parts. Source: Judy van der Velden

Cloud Gate is The Bean
Despite being called "the bean" by just about everyone, the name of this Chicago sculpture is "Cloud Gate." Source: Minimal Exposition

In this public art installation by Alicia Martin, thousands of books spew from a window in Spain. This installation is part of her project "Biographies." "Source: Rebloggy

Located in Melbourne, Australia, this public art was designed by Deborah Halpern. Source: SmugMug

Public Art in Brazil
"Nuvem" was installed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2008. Source: Carbono

This Russian sculpture was erected as a monument to Stepanych the plumber. Locals say that if you give him a hug, you'll avoid future plumbing problems at home. Source: Weird Russia

San Jose Hands Mural
Designed by Christian Moeller, this massive mural stands at the enterance of Mineta San Jose International Airport. Source: YouTube

Florentijn Hofman Slugs
Designed by Florentijn Hofman, these "Slow Slugs" were created out of more than 40,000 plastic bags. Source: Gessato

Lorenzo Quinn London Park
A child's hand holds a Vespa in this public art from Park Lane, London. Source: Lorenzo Quinn

While sculptures, murals and fountains make up much of public art, many pieces are interactive or performance-based. Check out this project from Salt Lake City:

Here's another interactive installation that comes alive at night:

Sometimes people forget how much time, effort and manpower goes into creating the epic public art that surfaces in our cities. This behind-the-scenes video offers a glimpse of what it takes:

Want more public art? Check out the best street art from 2013 and 2014!

Kiri Picone
Kiri Picone holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Pepperdine University and has been writing for various digital publishers for more than 10 years.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Picone, Kiri. "Bizarre, Wacky & Awesome: Public Art Around the World.", June 10, 2015, Accessed June 24, 2024.