GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The ArtPrize entry on the iconic Calder Plaza sculpture will now be taken down Tuesday.
"Fleurs et riviere" is made up of PVC foam flowers held by magnets to the landmark sculpture "La Grande Vitesse" by American artist Alexander Calder. The sculpture has come to represent Grand Rapids since it was installed downtown more than 40 years ago.
The city had approved the entry, but said Wednesday it must be decommissioned after receiving complaints from citizens and rather scathing disapproval from the New York City-based Calder Foundation. The work was initially supposed to be removed Friday starting at noon.
However, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell's office received a call saying that "Fleurs et riviere" artist David Dodde's son's class had planned a visit to ArtPrize for Tuesday. The mayor said that Dodde's entry could remain in place until after the field trip.
"While this situation remains a disappointment for me, I am grateful for Mayor Heartwell's gracious gesture and appreciate the outpouring of support from the community," Dodde said Thursday in a letter to the media.
Also Thursday, the City of Grand Rapids released the letter it received from the Calder Foundation after turning to it for guidance on the issue.
Deputy City Attorney Elizabeth White had provided a photo and description of the entry, saying that the city was asking for the foundation's opinion after receiving some complaints.
The responding email from Calder Foundation President Alexander S.C. Rower said the foundation had "received dozens of messages surrounding this controversy" and expressed distaste for the entry.
"The history of art has been enriched on multiple occasions by temporary interventions or responses to masterpieces by fellow artists; however, its success rests on the intellectual rigor of the dialogue and the intervener's deep understanding of the original work. I regret that neither applies to this unfortunate example," he wrote.
"The addition of poorly rendered imitation Warhol flowers to Calder's magnificent La Grande Vitesse contributes nothing to humanity's understanding of Calder, Warhol, or the role of public art. The public "discussion" surrounding this abomination, which you mention as an element of the project's success, fails to address these issues.
"We had chosen to remain silent about this provincial happenstance, as the initiative is luckily temporary and reflects an utter lack of understanding and respect of Calder's genius," he continued.
Dodde told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday his work is an homage to Calder.
Despite its decommissioning, "Fleurs et riviere" (No. 55175) will remain in the world's largest art competition and ArtPrize-goers can still vote for it.
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