PAFA Announces Claes Oldenburg Sculpture Commission for Lenfest Plaza
Philadelphia, PA – The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has commissioned world-renowned artist Claes Oldenburg to create a new public artwork for its Lenfest Plaza. The design consists of a 51 foot high sculpture in the form of a paintbrush, raised at a 60 degree angle as if in the act of painting, with a 6-ft paint glob on the ground below. The sculpture is positioned between PAFA’s Historic Landmark Building and the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Buildings.
Oldenburg titled the work Paint Torch, merging two ideas in this project: the paintbrush and the torch. He stated that the paintbrush is a good fit for PAFA to “celebrate a place where painting with a brush is really practiced.” Thus the paintbrush refers to location as well as identifies the activities of the School.
The torch highlights a moment in history as the first place of art in the new country. David R. Brigham, PAFA’s President and CEO, remarked: “the torch also references Philadelphia’s important place in American history, as a leader of the American Revolution. Oldenburg’s ingenious artwork evokes a broader series of associations through its dual references.”
On December 1, 2010, Claes Oldenburg presented a wooden model of this sculpture to members of the Philadelphia Art Commission. The design was enthusiastically received and unanimously approved.
Unifying PAFA’s campus, Lenfest Plaza will stand between the Academy’s Historic Landmark and Samuel M.V. Hamilton buildings. The plaza was designed by internationally renowned landscape architecture firm OLIN, David A. Rubin, OLIN partner, serves as project architect of the Lenfest Plaza. The new civic space is scheduled to be completed in late summer of 2011, offering public outdoor seating and rotating works of emerging and established artists in an urban setting. The Lenfest Plaza is made possible by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Gerry Lenfest with additional financial support from the City of Philadelphia.
Claes Oldenburg’s first large-scale public sculpture was the 45 foot high Clothespin created for Philadelphia in 1976. Since then, working with his partner and wife, the late Coosje van Bruggen, he has placed 45 Large-Scale Projects in the USA, Europe, Japan, and Korea, including another Philadelphia project, the Split Button (1981), on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Like the other sculptures created by the couple, the new commission for PAFA will involve the transformation and enlargement into architectural scale of a common object selected for its relation to a specific site.