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World's Ugliest Public Art (PHOTOS)

Posted: 12/09/11 07:50 AM ET

It used to be that if you needed to perk up a street or park, a statue of a mustachioed general on horseback or a goddess in a toga would do nicely. But these days, being pretty or handsome just isn't enough of a goal for public art, which is variably gigantic, stridently eclectic, borderline tasteless or some combination of all those things. If that means bringing the ugly, so be it.

To come up with candidates for the world's ugliest public art, we at Travel + Leisure sought pieces that shot for the moon and missed. Size counted: A weird little mural might not be your cup of tea, but it's a lot easier to overlook than a gargantuan sculpture of a starlet captured exposing her underwear.

Of course, many of the artists whose work is featured here are probably in on the joke, and wouldn't be bothered by a little ribbing. No one would ever make peeing automatons if he or she weren't ready to face a little blowback.

And if you find yourself thinking that a few of these works don't deserve inclusion on this list, so much the better. We might have been too hasty. As the Boston art critic Greg Cook puts it, "Public art -- even works we hate -- should be given a chance. Years. Sometimes it takes a while for something to grow on you. Sometimes it takes a while just to figure something out."

We're not sure that that's going to make many of these works much more palatable, but hey, you never can tell. In the meantime, we'll continue to give the sinister monk, and all the rest a very wide berth.

--John Rambow

Related Links:
World's Ugliest Buildings
World's Ugliest Airports
World's Strangest Statues

Abbé Faria Statue, Goa, India
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An 18th-century Portuguese monk who pioneered hypnotic techniques, Abbé Faria was honored in 1945 in the city of his birth with this rather unwholesome tribute. The novelist Evelyn Waugh called the thing “wildly vivacious,” saying that it captured the illustrious abbé at the “climax of an experiment, rampant over an entranced female.” Be that as it may, it’s easy to imagine that the abbé’s prostrate subject wishes that she could call the whole thing off and make a run for the beach instead.


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Photo: Wendy Underwood
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