Photo by Tom Crane/ courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Okay, so Claes Oldenburg's (b.1929) style of public sculpture is fairly old-school, but in my view there's still something quite pleasing about a 51-foot paintbrush. And he is 82. Paint Torch was commissioned at a cost of $1.5m by Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) for the Lenfest Plaza, installed on 20 August 2011 and illuminated for the first time on 1st October 2011. It was funded by the Lenfest family and the city of Philadelphia, which has another three public works by Oldenburg created in the 1970s and early 80s, including one of his Oldenburg's first public sculptures, Clothespin, created in 1976.
Bob Krist© 1999 by Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp.
The 'paintbrush' tilts at an angle, as if it were about to dip into the 'drop of paint' below, and is topped with illuminated bristles. You can watch a video made during the construction here: http://www.pafa.org/painttorch/ Paint Torch is the artist's first public work completed without his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, who died in 2009. Together they had previously collaborated to create 41 large-scale artworks. Claes Oldenburg is probably best known for his soft sculptures of everyday items such as hamburgers, bathtubs and lipsticks which were often deflated as if the party had just ended. Remarkably, Philadelphia has had a Per Cent for Art policy since 1959 - which was the first of its kind in the USA.
You can read more on the PAFA's website here: http://www.pafa.org/About/Lenfest-Plaza/Oldenburg-s-Paint-Torch/843/ and read The Art Newspaper's article about the artwork here: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Oldenburg-s-eternal-flame/24674