THREATENED: Future Unclear for Monument With a Standing Beast After Removal From Thompson Center Plaza

Relocation of ‘Monument with Standing Beast,’ 1984, Jean Dubuffet sculpture in the Thompson Center plaza. Photo credit: Lynn Becker
Relocation of ‘Monument with Standing Beast,’ 1984, Jean Dubuffet sculpture in the Thompson Center plaza. Photo credit: Lynn Becker

“When Rolf Achilles, an art historian and a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, walked by the Loop’s James R. Thompson Center Thursday, he said he felt a profound sadness. Blue fencing surrounded the building’s courtyard as construction crews prepared to remove the iconic Chicago sculpture Monument With a Standing Beast from the site.

“‘The significance of this is that wherever they put (the monument) now, it’s going to be in the wrong place,’ Achilles said. ‘It was placed here specifically with the building in mind. With the rest of the art in mind. It’s sad to see things taken out of their context.’

“Two years after Google announced plans to acquire the center from the state, construction crews began uprooting its trademark sculpture from its courtyard Friday. The sculpture, built by Jean Dubuffet and nicknamed ‘Snoopy in a Blender’ by Chicagoans, has stood next to the building for nearly 40 years.

“According to the city, it comprises four elements –– a standing animal, a tree, a portal and an architectural form. The sculpture was erected in the Thompson courtyard before the building was completed in 1985.

“Construction crews began removing a 4-foot slab of concrete around the monument Friday after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced that it would be transported to a state facility.

“Pritzker’s office said they would announce plans for the sculpture’s relocation once they were finalized. In 2022, the Chicago Sun-Times reported the sculpture would move to 115 S. LaSalle St., the former site of BMO Harris Bank. Later, the outlet reported a potential relocation site at the Art Institute. Now, the monument’s future seems unclear.

“Regardless of where the sculpture is moved, Ward Miller at Preservation Chicago said it is a loss for the area. Miller said that the sculpture is part of a larger decline in public art throughout Chicago, particularly in the Loop.

“‘We’ve been watching these really magnificent works of art and their plazas were part of the reason these buildings were allowed to reach a certain height and that is of great concern to us,’ Miller said.

“Miller said his hope is for the statue to remain open to the public. But, he added, since Chicagoans will no longer be able to see works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Jean Dubuffet from the same spot, they are losing something great.

“‘You can see them all just standing in one place and sort of just turning your one’s head a little bit,’ Miller said. ‘I always thought seeing all these great, great works of art together was part of a special quality in Chicago. And we encourage Google to bring that back.'” (Kalra, Chicago Tribune, 4/5/24)

Read the full story at Chicago Tribune



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