THREATENED: ‘Monument with Standing Beast’ Sculpture to be Relocated

“One of Chicago’s iconic pieces of public art will be getting a new home.

“French artist Jean Dubuffet’s sculpture ‘Monument with Standing Beast,’ in place in front of the Thompson Center since the building opened in 1985, is moving to a different spot in the Loop.

“With the state of Illinois selling the building to Google, the sculpture, once dubbed ‘Snoopy in a Blender,’ will move to the former BMO Harris Bank building at 115 S. LaSalle St. That building was recently purchased by the state to replace some of the office space lost with the Thompson Center sale.

“Cathy Kwiatkowski, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, said no date is set for the sculpture, owned by the state, to arrive at its new home.

“The 29-foot, 10-ton fiberglass sculpture was inspired by Dubuffet’s 1960 series of paintings called ‘Hourlope.’ In 1984, the late Ruth Horwich, art collector and one of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s founders, donated the sculpture in memory of her husband, Leonard Horwich. It was unveiled outside the still-incomplete Thompson Center in November of that year.

“‘Monument with Standing Beast’ has four elements, meant to represent an animal, a tree, a portal and a monument.

“Rolf Achilles, an art historian and professor at School of the Art Institute in Chicago, would prefer the sculpture stay in front of the Thompson Center. It’s a high-profile spot, he said, unlike its future location.

“‘The Dubuffet deserves better than standing in the shade,’ Achilles said. ‘It won’t have the impact it has now; in other words, Dubuffet is going to be in exile.’ (Perkins, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/31/22)

‘The Monument with Standing Beast’ sculpture located in the Thompson Center’s public plaza was created by one of the world’s most noted Modernist artists, Jean Dubuffet. It was a gift to the citizens of Chicago and Illinois and must be protected. We have seen important works of 20th century Chicago public art removed (Henry Bertoia’s Sonambient and Yaacov Agam’s Communication X9), destroyed (top surface mosaic of Marc Chagall’s Four Seasons), placed in storage (Alexander Calder’s The Universe) or sold at auction (Henry Moore’s Large Internal-External Upright Form). 20th century Chicago public art was a 2017 Chicago 7 Most Endangered, so it is imperative that this great Dubuffet sculpture be protected.

Preservation Chicago urges the City of Chicago with the support of The Prime Group and The State of Illinois to designate the Thompson Center as a Chicago Landmark. A Landmark Designation could protect this building, plaza and public sculpture ensuring that these will be retained in any redevelopment of the site. Jahn’s career began in Chicago and is now celebrated around the world. Much like the Sony Center in Berlin (which was modeled on the Thompson Center), this is a building of the people, built as a monument and open to all, with many public spaces that should be forever open to all, and efforts to both protect its architecture and vision and activate the building should be implemented.

Read the full story at Chicago Sun-Times

Thompson Center sculpture heading to new home; With the state selling the building where it has stood for nearly four decades, “Monument with Standing Beast” will have to move to a new location, Jordan Perkins, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/31/22

Chicago’s 20th Century Public Sculptures, a 2017 Preservation Chicago 7 Most Endangered

The Thompson Center – What Will The State Do With 150+ Art Objects?, Edmund McDevitt, Art Can Save Us Blog, 7/30/22

Major Works from the Thompson Center Permanent Art Collection listing, Illinois Department of Central Management Services


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