Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pavane to Chicago


Pavane to Chicago, 1981
Abbott L. Pattison
Campus of DePaul University, near the Concert Hall
800 W. Belden Avenue

            A “pavane” is a stately dance in slow duple time, popular during the 16th century, or a piece of music in this rhythm. The reference to music reveals sculptor Abbott Pattison’s interest in capturing a sense of the rhythmic “surge of life” associated with his native city. On the brass plaque that accompanies the piece, the artist explains that a sculpture of Chicago “couldn’t be just a person, nor an animal, nor the lake, nor the sun—but some creation containing all of these things.” This bronze work, featuring rounded, undulating forms and bold protuberances, is his visual interpretation of the “sound of the city in the middle of the night” and the “throbbing pulse of the place.”
            A companion piece to Pattison’s Chicago Totem, this work was located originally in the lobby of the Outer East Drive Apartments at 400 East Randolph Street. Later, it was donated to DePaul University and now stands outdoors near the Concert Hall on campus.
            Pavane to Chicago is not the only work by Pattison that has been moved from its original location. In 1954, while teaching at the University of Georgia, Pattison created a stylized 10-foot high horse out of heavy-gauge steel to be displayed on campus. According to some accounts, students rioted over the piece when it was unveiled, possibly due to disparaging remarks made by the artist about the school’s athletic program, and they covered it with spray paint, manure and attempted to set it on fire. It was removed from campus, stored and, in 1959, moved to a grain field owned by a professor in the agricultural department alongside Highway 15, where it still stands today.


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