Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Butt-Fugly Lost Public Art of the Week-- November 22nd

We Lost by Tony Smith

Formerly on Locust Walk east of 36th Street

Wow, he must have spent about 8 seconds designing this. Image from philart.net.
                          Ah jeez, this fucking thing. This is the kind of piece that you know great sculptors from ages past look down from Valhalla and shit on. Alexander Milne Calder could shit a better sculpture than this. The worst part is how people who love this thing think of like a million different excuses to justify its asstitude.
                       When the University of Pennsylvania was building their tall dorm towers some decades ago, they needed to satisfy the good ol' Percent for Art requirement. In 1967, they threw down $55,000 for this particular part of it and purchased this 7 ton, 11 foot square of steel. The cube was called We Lost. Oh, we lost alright. They installed it in 1976. 
                      The origin story of the name and design of We Lost is shrouded in a bunch of fracockta-baloney. One story says that sculptor Tony Smith was working on a piece that he called Cosa Nostra and fucked up the casting process. He reused it and called it We Lost as "an inside joke".
                     However, that's a different story than the newspaper articles about the piece in 1982. In one Smith infers that We Lost means We Lost the Vietnam War and that the arch-shapes of the cube are inverted versions of the Ancient Roman victory arches. What a bullshitter. Recent articles kissing the sculptures' ass now say that the Vietnam stuff was other peoples' interpretation of the work, not Smith's idea. Yeah, right.
                    In 1999, the sculpture was starting to get all tarnished and fucked up, so it was sent away to get restored. The university replaced it with a copy of Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture. Philadelphia and that LOVE sculpture are inexplicably linked through time and space. That sculpture is on display all over the world but has somehow become associated with Philadelphia. UPenn students liked the sculpture so much that it became a new campus landmark of sorts. It became clear that We Lost wasn't fucking coming back.
                   For years, mysteries swirled about where the statue was. In reality, most of the time it was just sitting in storage in Swedesboro, New Jersey. A simple Google search can find times it went on the road. For example, in 2006 it was on display in the Mathew Marks Gallery in NYC along with some other Smith sculptures.

Wow, what range this guy has.
                   Glad this thing is gone. Oh wait a minute... its coming back. That's right. Dean Eduardo Glandt misses the sculpture and wants it back on campus. The chance has come with the building of the funky new Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology... and sure enough, you can see We Lost in these three renderings. Not a bad looking building, by the way. The girders for it are going up fast right now. 

                          Hmm, I wonder if this really satisfies the Percent for Art requirement for this thing... they already own it, all they have to do it move it there. None of the Vietnam bullshit this time... now they're saying that it goes with the building because its geometric. Make up your fucking minds!!!


  1. I have recently spoken to the benefactor for this new building and explained some of the history. He was not pleased. I doubt that this piece will re-emerge here now.