What is Installation Art?

Typically characterized by three-dimensional (3D) objects, the art movement known as installation art includes everything from life-size sculptures made of recycled materials and room-sized displays to light and sound experiences inside an art gallery. Many contemporary artists favor interactive installations that encourage the viewer to become part of the work of art.

Types of Installation Art

Drawings or Paintings: An art installation featuring drawings or paintings invites more interaction than a gallery wall. Viewers must often enter a room or walk through a space to engage with the art. Examples include artfully paint-splattered walls, a space with paintings that appear like realistic windows, and rooms covered in painted dots.

Found Objects: Plenty of artists craft works of art from found objects—pieces of trash or recycled or discarded items. To create this type of installation, the artist arranges the found objects in a specific way, or they might use them to create an unexpected 3D object—for example, a wave that consists entirely of bottle caps.

Light or Sound: Some installation artists work with light or sound to create their sensory experiences. In art installations that put light and sound front and center, there may or may not be a 3D object with which the viewer can interact beyond the room or space itself. In the latter case, the installation site will contribute even more to the overall uniqueness of the artwork.

Sculptures: An art installation can consist of just one sculpture, or it might encompass multiple - for example, a grove of sculpted trees. Sculptural installations need not be large; however, they are often grand in scale to make the best possible use of the space. Like other art installations, they can be on display indoors or outdoors.

Text: Some art installations feature letters or numbers on a wall or other surface. An artist might create the text from scratch using traditional media, or they might use found objects or other nontraditional media to spell out a message in a way they feel makes the most impact.


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