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Ultra-Modern Sculpture Installed As Guidepost Outside Barnes Museum

(A construction worker watches as Ellsworth Kelly, standing in front of his 40-foot sculpture, addresses attendees at Tuesday's installation.  Credit: Steve Tawa)

(A construction worker watches as Ellsworth Kelly, standing in front of his 40-foot sculpture, addresses attendees at Tuesday’s installation. Credit: Steve Tawa)

Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It won’t be long now.

The Barnes Foundation, about to open in mid-May on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, has installed a major new piece of art.

But, it’s not hanging on the inside walls.  It’s a soaring sculpture, at the museum’s entrance near 20th Street.

The 40-foot high abstract sculpture, called “The Barnes Totem,” is a zigzagging form of shiny steel.

The sculptor, 88-year-old contemporary master Ellsworth Kelly (at lectern in top photo), watched as construction crews eased the piece onto its resting place in a high profile spot near the entrance, to serve as a beacon to the front door, at the end of a reflecting pool.

kelly ellsworth toast Ultra Modern Sculpture Installed As Guidepost Outside Barnes Museum

(Ellsworth Kelly, center, is toasted by Barnes museum officials. Credit: Steve Tawa)

“I’ve done a lot of totems,” Kelly (right) said today.  “This is the last and the biggest. And it’s my favorite — always the last one is my favorite.”

The building’s architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, were on hand. Williams says the bead-blasted surface of the stainless steel work complements the limestone and bronze fins of the building’s exterior.

“It is in fact the play of the sun on the building and the sun on the totem, and the interaction of people at its base that really is a piece of magic,” he said.

The Barnes’ world-class art collection opens to the public on May 19th.

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