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The twenty-first century will be the century of play
Brian Sutton-Smith
Large-Scale PlayArt
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Many people seem to maintain that in art, large-scale and play activities are incompatible. In their mind, large structures are simply too unwieldy to allow any kind of playful interaction. PlayArt objects are usually small, hand-held constructions that can be bought in museum stores. While this may be a rather common point of view, it is based on a misconception of play. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute for Play, established that "Play is a state of mind rather than an activity." This principle is the generally accepted opinion of most play theorists.

There are numerous PlayArt artists who have enlarged their creations to enormous sizes which then appears to eliminate the basic function of the sculpture. Alexander Calder is a primary example of such an artist. He built his famous Mobiles as small maquettes that he could hold in his hands. In order to make them move, he would blow on them. Many of his clients and art dealers wanted these Mobiles in gigantic sizes, but Calder did not have the equipment to execute them in such sizes. They all had to be fabricated in factories, and the movement had to be furnished by wind power. These monumental Mobiles did not allow any playful interaction by the viewer, but they certainly created a playful mindset.

This is the powerful feature that all large-scale PlayArt sculptures have in common with Calder's work, even if they don't move. Some of the large-scale concepts are done with tongue in cheek. They are so immense that they are completely impossible to realize. Nevertheless, all these enormous sizes are simply another form of play. In the viewer's mind, they stimulate the playful creativity that is characteristic for this art form. No other art form can accomplish that, only PlayArt.

Alexander Calder

Carsten Höller

Carsten Höller and Anish Kapoor

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam

Ernesto Neto

Mark Di Suvero

Jeremy Deller

Lygia Clark

Ernst Lurker


PlayArt With Mirrors

Miscellaneous PlayArt

Large-Scale Concepts

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Brian Sutton-Smith  |  Our Playful Culture  |  Museum Animation  |  PlayArt’s Cool Factor  |  Culture and Play in the Emirates

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