posted by Elizabeth Fama
Some of our readers may be entrenched enough in Hyde Park to remember the Virginio Ferrari sculpture that was in front of Woodward Court (now the home of the Graduate School of Business's Harper Center). It looked something like this when it was in one piece:
I searched up and down on the Internet, and I could not find a photo of it in situ in its glory days. Even Virginio Ferrari has decided not to put it in his online portfolio. I did track down the actual sculpture, however, and it's living a modest but comfortable life in a little mechanical graveyard behind the steam plant on 60th and Blackstone. It looks like this:
You see, this sculpture happily served its useful life. It adorned the front of an ugly, squat dorm without upstaging it; over the years it supported thousands of college students reading a book between classes or flirting a bit; it even let a little girl climb on it nearly daily in the late 1970s on her way to the Laboratory Schools (as if she wasn't late enough). When it's useful life was over -- voila! -- the private owner (i.e. the University) simply retired it.
The sculpture below is publicly owned, so apparently, in spite of our pleas, it can't be removed.
And the mural below is not only publicly owned, but heaven help us, local and national organizations are fighting to refurbish it...whether we like it or not.
The Getty Foundation says, "The qualities that make these murals so distinctive -- their outdoor locations and the materials used to create them -- can hasten their disintegration and decay." Well, duh. That's why we should consider them transient art, and either give someone else a shot at the wall (in my opinion, a classically trained artist), or re-think the visual design of our underpasses entirely.