Thompson Center sculpture heads to its new home

One of Chicago’s iconic public works of art will have 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 another location on 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. This building was recently purchased by the state to replace some of the office space lost with the sale of the Thompson Center.

Cathy Kwiatkowski, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, said no date has been set for the state-owned sculpture to arrive in its new home.

The 29-foot, 10-ton fiberglass sculpture was inspired by Dubuffet’s series of paintings from 1960 called “Hourlope”. In 1984, the late Ruth Horwich, art collector and one of the founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art, 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, intended to represent an animal, a tree, a portal and a monument.

The art, however, is in the 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 loves sculpture. It reminds her of the bead maze she had as a child.

Rolf Achilles, an art historian and professor at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, would prefer the sculpture remain in front of the Thompson Center. It’s a high-profile spot, he says, unlike his future location.

“The Dubuffet deserves better than standing in the shade,” said Achille. “It won’t have the impact it has now; in other words, Dubuffet will be in exile.

Some are just happy he’s staying somewhere in town.

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

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