Public art in the age of Austerity

When the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull reopened after a refurbishment in January 2017, it unveiled an expensive acquisition: an early Renaissance painting by the Sienese artist, Pietro Lorenzetti, of “Christ between Saints Paul and Peter”. A gold decorated wooden panel by an artist ahead of his time, the dazzling work is not as flat as we expect of medieval art. The solid 700-year-old figures look almost alive. Councils across the country, at the time, were considering selling pieces from their collections to cope with cuts in public funding. Eyebrows were raised at the £1.6m secured and spent on the artwork. Critical voices asked whether a small, regional gallery needed such an expensive treasure. The role of public art in an age of austerity and superwealth

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