Towering sculpture may be on its way to Parkway site

Posted: January 11, 2007

A towering red sculpture by Mark di Suvero - known throughout the world for his fanciful steel I-beam constructions - has been approved by the Fairmount Park Commission for installation in a grassy area near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Placement of the 40-foot-high work, titled Iroquois and currently on long-term loan to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich., still must be approved by the city Art Commission. If that panel gives its blessing, Iroquois could be installed across from Eakins Oval in the shadow of the Philadelphian condo building - and across the roadway from Rocky - by spring.

Penny Balkin Bach, director of the Fairmount Park Art Association, said the work was acquired by an anonymous donor and given to the association, which will own and maintain it.

"Every now and then an unusual opportunity comes our way, and this is one of them," Bach told the park commissioners at their regular monthly meeting. "We feel this sculpture promises to be the next local landmark in Philadelphia. . . . It's the most important contemporary sculpture to come to Philadelphia since Claes Oldenberg's Clothespin in 1976."

Iroquois is composed of painted "automotive-grade" steel painted "GM red," Bach said.

Di Suvero began the piece in 1983 and fiddled with it as recently as 1999; it will be his first public sculpture installed outdoors in the city, although the Art Museum owns one di Suvero piece.

Should the Art Commission approve installation, the artist, with crew and giant crane, will descend on the Ben Franklin Parkway and direct the whole operation - a process reminiscent of manipulating a huge Erector Set - sometime in May.

Contact culture writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594 or ssalisbury@phillynews.com.

|
|
|
|
|