Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moving the Universe?

Calder's "The Universe" - photo by Jough Dempsey via Flickr
An article in the Chicago Tribune reports that Sears, Roebuck & Co., original owner of the Sears Tower in Chicago, wants to buy back the motorized Alexander Calder sculpture "The Universe", which was commissioned specifically for the tower lobby and has been on display since 1974.

Sears sold the tower in 1994 and it was renamed "Willis Tower" in 2009. The current owner, an investment firm named "223 South Wacker LLC" is disputing Sears' claim that the 1994 terms of sale, which included a "buy-back" agreement that allows Sears to purchase the sculpture at half of its appraised price, is still valid. An attorney for the investment firm
has filed a law-suit to block the purchase and reports that Sears intends to remove the sculpture from the tower . Sears has declined to comment on any plans to relocate the sculpture.

I have a feeling that if Sears is successful, they will indeed move "The Universe" out of the tower; inflicting yet another act of vandalism against what is perhaps Chicago's most iconic building. Iconic buildings should not be renamed, and works of art that are site-specific, such as "The Universe", should not be relocated. 

I also have a feeling that the people of Chicago, proud of their city's art and architectural heritage, and still angry over the renaming of the tower, are not going to stand by and let this happen without a fight!


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