Thompson Center sculpture heading to new home

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Jean Dubuffet’s “Monument with Standing Beast” will be relocated to 115 S. LaSalle St.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

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 spokesperson for the 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.

Art, however, is in eye of the beholder.

“I know it’s supposed to be a beast, but to me it looks like icebergs,” passerby Peter Orlinsky said Friday.

Chicago resident Natalie Flores is fond of the sculpture. It reminds her of bead maze toy she had as a child.

Rolf Achilles, an art historian and professor at School of the Art Institute in Chicago, would prefer the sculpture should 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 an exile.”

Some are just happy it’s staying somewhere in the city.

“I think it will work over there too,” Max Grinnell said of the new location. “Keeping it in the Loop is crucial because a lot of people come through there.”

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July 31, 2022 at 08:05AM

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