Public art: Communicating with an urban audience
The EPO's abstract sculptures - landmarks almost since their inception - have played a key role in shaping entire segments of urban landscapes. With a minimalist style reduced to functionality, tectonics and the visual appearance of materials, the monumental sculptures of Nikolaus Schöffer, Max Bill and Leo Zogmayer take their inspiration from the universal language of post-war sculpture, which, using a non-figurative vocabulary, sought to develop a new utopian social model for modern cities.
Younger generation artists like Jeppe Hein challenge the conditions of urban perception of such representative pieces with humour and a wink, highlighting new sides to civic participation in art in public spaces.
The list of artists was very international from the outset. The growing number of contracting states to the European Patent Convention is reflected also in the citizenship of the artists in the collection, even if some now choose to define themselves more by where they work than by their nationality. The artists engage with the work and working environment of the EPO and Office staff are confronted by contemporary art at the workplace - it's a learning experience for everyone involved!
The EPO's sites in Munich, The Hague and Vienna currently boast a total of 23 monumental sculptures or public installations, including kinetic artworks, light installations, water features, interactive sculptures and meditation gardens. Over the years, these pieces have not only become an integral part of the Office's various sites; above all they have also influenced the perception of the EPO and its identity in a public, urban setting.