John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Art on Sunday: Calder, Flamingo

Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976)
Flamingo, 1973
Calder, Flamingo
Federal Center Plaza, Kluczynski Federal Building, Chicago

Chicago is home to a lot of great public art (and at least one clunker). While not as iconic as the Chicago Picasso, this Calder stabile is still pretty great. Its vibrant color and graceful curves are perfect for its setting, the plaza in front of the Mies van der Rohe-designed Kluczynski Federal Building.

Incidentally, that this sculpture exists, or at least exists in this particular location, can be attributed in no small part to an unlikely patron of the arts: Richard Nixon. As detailed in a 1993 article in Public Art Review, the Nixon White House issued in 1972 a "presidential directive on federal aesthetics," which among other things included a call for "a program for including art works in new Federal buildings." The GSA responded the following year by dusting off an old Percent-for-Art program that had fallen victim to budgetary pressures in the mid-60s, and by January 1974, they had 32 proposals in hand and another twelve on the drawing board. The program still exists today, and this sculpture, the first commissioned under the program, serves as its signature work.

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