Contemporary Master Ellsworth Kelly Commissioned To Design Abstract Sculpture At Barnes Foundation

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A contemporary master’s work will occupy a high-profile spot near the entrance to the Barnes Foundation’s new building, about to open in mid-May, on the Ben Franklin Parkway. The Philadelphia Art Commission looked over the rendering and approved the project.

Ellsworth Kelly has been commissioned to create a soaring sculpture.

The 40-foot high abstract sculpture, called ‘The Barnes Totem,’ will be installed at the end of a reflecting pool.

Project Executive Bill McDowell says it will stand at the intersection of two walkways of red maple trees.

“The sculpture will really serve as a beacon to our front door, which is 20th and the parkway.”

Barnes Chief Curator Judith Dolkart says it’ll be made of bead-blasted stainless steel.

“The zig-zagging form of the sculpture echoes the arrangement of the stone panels, each constructed of varying sized stones on the side of the building.”

“It’s the simplest one 20-foot band of shiny steel, and then another one going up parallel,” adds Philadelphia Museum of Art Curator, Joe Rishle.

Rishle characterizes the 88-year old Ellsworth Kelly “as one of the four or five greatest living American artists as a painter and sculptor.”

“It’ll look like it’s always been there,” he says.

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