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Live peacocks housed in large gold birdcages

Mircea Cantor, 'The Need for Uncertainty' (installation detail), 2008.

(c) The artist, courtesy Yvon Lambert, Paris, New York. Photo: Andy Keate

Groups of green, red, pink and blue bottle tops threaded onto cotton and suspended.

Francoise Dupre, 'Autres mers(2)', bottle top hanging installation, 2008.

Courtesy of the artist and Axis.

Installation using a variety of media including beads & found objects. Backdrop of  star cut outs.

Hew Locke, 'Starchitect' (installation view, ArtSway), 2011. Mixed media, Variable dimensions.

Courtesy of: Hew Locke and Hales Gallery, London. Photography by: Mark Segal. Copyright: Hew Locke

The term installation was coined in the 1970s to describe artwork that of any form or size that inhibits a space inside or outside a gallery, which is often site-specific. 

Installations are typically three-dimensional and can be made up by a variety of material and medium. They can be indefinite or temporary and viewers can find themselves walking around a piece, contemplating it from a distance or immersing themselves in the space of the work itself. 

It is common for installations to be specially commissioned for sites.  If someone is interested in buying a site-specific installation an artist may be willing to adapt the original for a new setting or create a similar piece.

I was actually pleased to have the housekeeper move out and be replaced by Jason Rhoades and Matthew Barney.

Norah Stone, Collector, San Francisco. Owning Art: The Contemporary Art Collector's Handbook by Louisa Buck and Judith Greer, Cultureshock Media, 2006

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