Mark di Suvero’s Iroquois on the Parkway

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The consensus is against this piece — I’ve heard it described by the more representationally-inclined as looking like “something that’s fallen off the Comcast Center” and, alternatively, “Ground Zero.” I’m a fan of it for very insufficient and inchoate (read subjective) reasons: I enjoy the use of industrial materials, the temporary juxtaposition of it to the Comcast is cool for a time, and I think it is an homage to that iconic image of di Suvero’s San Francisco: the Golden Gate Bridge. But these are just conjectural justifications in the face of hostile criticism.

But I think there’s a more convincing defense of this piece in probing the dissonance in using I-beams to represent the sinewy, organic form of a Iroquois or in exploring the almost tongue-in-cheek tone of the red man tint to the whole complex. In a kind of learning-from-Las Vegas-way, Iroquois’ unsubtle scale also makes it digestible in a car moving 45 mph around Eakins Oval — something that can’t be said for some of the Parkway’s more intricate pieces. And changing perspective creates a sense of motion in the piece: as we move we throw on our own anthropomorphic expectations and continue to ask “what is it doing?”

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