Following the popular 30th Street Station installation by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS this past spring, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) presents KAWS @ PAFA, on view beginning October 12, 2013.
The KAWS @ PAFA installation features both indoor and outdoor components. Over 60 paintings and sculptures by KAWS will be installed in the galleries of PAFA’s Historic Landmark Building, located at 118 North Broad Street, between October 12, 2013 and January 5, 2014. Additionally, a new 9 ¾-foot KAWS sculpture, titled BORN TO BEND, will be installed on the pedestal on the front façade above the entrance of the Frank Furness-designed Historic Landmark Building, October 12, 2013 through August, 2014.
The exhibition creates an intriguing link between the Museum’s 19th-century American art collection and historic architecture and KAWS’ contemporary works, and a chance to engage in an artistic dialogue about PAFA’s past and present.
“KAWS has created a significant new sculpture for the façade of PAFA’s Frank Furness-designed building, inaugurating an exciting new series of sculptural installations in this historically charged setting. I am delighted that he has also created a magnificent body of new work specifically for this exhibition. KAWS’ work in dialogue with both PAFA’s architecture and our historic collection of American art will provide a fascinating dialogue, and will enable viewers, both new and old, to see art in a new context,” says Harry Philbrick, PAFA’s Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum.
BORN TO BEND launches PAFA’s new Sculpture Plinth Exhibition Program, which will present a rotating series of contemporary, attention-catching art in an unexpected location. KAWS’ site-specific piece for the façade restores art to the Gothic plinth that was designed to hold sculpture, but that has remained empty for over 70 years.
From 1876 to 1937, a colossal headless statue unearthed in Greece graced the plinth, before it was removed due to severe decay. Believed to be a monument to Ceres, the Greek goddess of agriculture, the marble statue was presented to PAFA by Commodore Daniel F. Paterson in 1828. Prior to being installed on the plinth in 1876, the statue stood in the courtyard of the Museum’s previous home at 10th and Chestnut streets.
BORN TO BEND will push the boundaries of traditional sculpture by re-engaging some of the most traditional tropes in art—the plinth itself, the idea of monumental civic sculpture, and an engagement with Frank Furness and George Hewitt’s complex Victorian architectural motifs. Beyond revitalizing the façade of the historic building, KAWS’ sculpture will draw new audiences to view PAFA’s galleries.
The public is encouraged to share photos of the exhibition on social media using the hashtag #PAFAKAWS.
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