Claes Oldenburg has been commissioned to design a sculpture to be placed in a new pedestrian plaza near the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). Claes Oldenburg is a Swedish sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. 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. Another well-known construction is the Free Stamp in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The Philadelphia Sculpture will consist of a 53-foot tall paintbrush.
Open to the public twenty-four hours a day, PAFA’s new Lenfest Plaza will be a pedestrian court that will offer outdoor seating and host an upscale restaurant that will look out onto the plaza from the ground level of PAFA’s contemporary Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.
Works of emerging and established artists will also be continually on display in the Plaza, making this an exciting and inviting civic space for visitors to Philadelphia. The Plaza is expected to be completed later this year.
According to a blog called City Bricks, Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest donated $2 million to the project with $1 million from the city. The plaza, between the restored Hamilton Building and Frank Furness’s original Academy building, will face the new entrance to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and open around the same time.