A short video looking at some of the public art of Athens.
Street art and graffiti abound
Socrates and Consucius.. a meeting of minds in the Agora (Wu Weisnan, 2021)
The Runner is my favourite piece of modern art in Athens. The use of materials and the way the glass produces such a dynamic blurred image. Then the location in the centre of a major gateway to the city. It could do with a good hose down, but in a way it says more about the pollution that is so much a part of the Athens car culture that perhaps it is best left as it is. Costas Varotsos has worked using glass as his central medium since 1983. Close to The Runner is a nother piece in the grounds of the National Art Gallery donated by the artist.
The Runner (Costas Varotsos, 1988).The Spiral (Costas Varotsos, 1991)
Modern Public Art of
By Jonathan BergAthens, the ancient seat of democracy has so much classical public art and architecture. Less well known is that it also has some fine modern public art on it’s streets. While our own book, on Birmingham’s Public Art was at the editorial stage, we took some time out to come and study the more modern public art seen on today’s Athenian streets. Last time I visited Athens, nearly twenty years ago, my mobile phone was stolen from my bag while I visited the Museum of Modern Art. This time Barbara’s went from her backpack, taken by a pickpocket while we waited to cross the road and before we even got to our hotel. Yes, there are lots of second hand mobile shops in Athens! Our advice is not to use Google maps on your phone if you roam the streets like us. Rather, leave your mobile phone in the safe in your room. Find your way round the traditional way, using a hotel street map of Athens!The main squares and parks have plenty of modern art installations. This is a city whose main roads are still totally dominated by the car and motorbike. The fumes, noise and aggressiveness of the traffic can be overwhelming and you appreciate just how much Birmingham has done to reduce the once dominant car in our own city. It is such a relief when you get to the fine grain side streets that are everywhere around, and offer such a different and more relaxed view of the city.Unexpected encounters are what it is all aboutThe public art shown here are the things that we discovered on walks around the city. Some we knew about before we came, but many pieces we simply discovered on the way to somewhere else. Surely that is exactly how public art is intended to be – an unexpected meeting on the streets to enlighten, inspire and create a spark of interest in our artistic side to brighten our day.The modern public art of Athens is certainly there to be discovered. Some of it is certainly place defining and clearly alludes to stories that are site specific while other pieces are more difficult to define. When it comes to street art there are some amazing pieces. Graffiti is certainly an issue on the stonework of the ancient world, just as it is on some of our fine Georgian and Victorian brickwork back in Birmingham.Controversial public art is seen with the statue outside the University where associations with the Nazi regime from World War II see demonstrations and placards.The modern public art of Athens is well worth contrasting with the ancient public art and architecture that the World’s tourists flock to see.
The Hephaisteion in the Agora. Always look up to see even more public art, with this including elements from the 4th century BC.
Let’s have a look around …
Tomb of the unknown solider with the Presidential Guard