Sunday, March 27, 2011

Missing Art of the Metroplex - Where Has Calder's Eagle Landed?


Alexander Calder's Sculpture 'The Eagle' was a downtown Fort Worth fixture for nearly 20 years. Where is it now?




   When the 90 year old Fort Worth National Bank opened its new headquarters on the corner of Fifth and Throckmorton in 1972, they were looking for a piece of public art to make a statement in front of their 30 story glass tower. They commissioned noted artist Alexander Calder who was known for large abstract sculptures and his iconic art form, the mobile. (That's right, the mobile over your baby's crib is an art form created by Calder)


  Calder's creation, one of his last before his passing, was a 39 foot statue titled The Eagle. For 17 years, the Eagle stood guard in downtown Fort Worth and became the city's most recognized piece of public art. But in 1999, the people of Fort Worth learned a hard lesson; there is a difference between public art and public owned art. 


  The ownership of The Eagle had actually passed through many hands during its stay in downtown. Fort Worth National Bank was bought out by Bank One, who sold the building and the Calder to a real estate investment company called Loutex. Loutex sold the sculpture to a group of investors, who tried to find a buyer to keep The Eagle here. When that search failed, the investors moved the sculpture out of town. That was the first time many angry Fort Worth citizens realized that this piece of public art was privately owned. 


   The first stop was Philadelphia, which was hoping to build a Calder Museum. The investors lent The Eagle to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When patrons in Philadelphia couldn't come up with the asking price, Seattle stepped forward.


   The Seattle Art Museum with the help of donors Jon and Mary Shirley bought The Eagle for $10 million and made it the centerpiece of their new Olympic Sculpture Garden. After a brief stay in front of the Seattle Museum of Asian Art, The Eagle landed in its new home in 2003. 




     


   While the Calder sits majestically i n the shadow of Seattle's Space Needle, one mystery remains. Who were the investors who bought the artwork and moved it out of downtown Fort Worth? That may never be known. 



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9 comments:

Troy said...

I moved to Seattle from Fort Worth and was very excited when I discovered this big red memory from my childhood.

Troy said...

I grew up in Fort Worth and remember The Eagle from my childhood. I moved to Seattle and was very excited to discover it here.

Tracey said...

Great post...I remember seeing that sculpture and sadly have to admit I did not realize it was no longer in FW...but happy to see it is somewhere where it is being enjoyed.

Doug said...

I'm from Seattle, but have lived in FW and TX long enough to have seen the Eagle at Bank One. IMHO, while FW lost a great piece, it is in a wonderful place - now sitting majestically overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains in a wonderful sculpture garden. The pic above does not even do it justice (and it's a good pic).

Longe said...

Mark

I was looking at the Seattle Photo and the Fort Worth Photo. I wonder if that sculpture is the same art work. The Seattle one is a Caulder but it seems to have more legs than the Fort Worth Calder.

Longe said...

Found a different photo yeap thats it never mind LOL

Todd said...

Read the book Same Kind of Different As Me and you will discover one of the investors involved in the Calder transaction from Ft. Worth.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Team Bank in 1990 and remember this piece well. Did not know it had been moved until I read the book "Same Kind of Different as Me".

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Seattle is not being a good steward to Calder's Eagle. It is oxidizing and rusting at this very moment. It is sad to see it in such a state of disrepair. Every time I visit Seattle and see it like this, it makes me sad. It was well cared for here in Fort Worth. It is a shame that it was sold in a shady transaction and removed overnight without any warning to the arts community here. Shameful.