Giant 3-Way Plug - Philadelphia, PA
N 39° 58.016 W 075° 10.918
18S E 484459 N 4424102
Quick Description: There are at least three different versions of this sculpture in the United States, two made of Cor-Ten steel and bronze (this one) and another of mahogany veneer. This sculpture was added to the Anne d'Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden in 2010.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 2/25/2012 9:30:18 PM
Waymark Code: WMDV78
This sculpture is one of an eclectic collection of giant real-life objects found in the Philadelphia area. This strongly volumetric plug emphasizes internal space and structure, whether it appears as balloon, cathedral or float. (I have no idea what that means.) The slot-like apertures, receptacles for prongs, enable the viewer to look inside; the windows, according to Oldenburg, are the counterparts of the prongs, and emphasize the sculpture’s capacity to “receive the observer into itself.” In contrast, the “fallen” plug, in metal, is about weight and gravity, a fact emphasized by the illusion of its having dropped from a great height, embedding itself in the ground. (The thing is surrounded by small stones. SOURCE
The Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden (1933-1961) is located at Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River, south of Girard Avenue Bridge. It is on the west end of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and across form the Fairmount Water Works. The plug is the largest and most conspicuous of the works of art in the sculpture garden. It is in a very large circular area surrounded by grass, with a plaque containing all the information about the sculpture at the base of the walkway, in the grass.
Claes Oldenburg, American (born Sweden 1929) sculpted this plug in 1970. The sculpture is of Cor-Ten steel and bronze and is 117 x 78 x 58 inches (297.2 x 198.1 x 147.3 cm). It remind me of a cubists attempt at art, which of course, in this case, very successful. This is the same fellow that made our giant clothes pin and cracked button, also on public display in our city. For goodness sakes observe the signs and DO NOT TOUCH THE PLUG. A security guard admonished my daughter's efforts to interact with the plug. The thing is just screaming to be touched.
The art was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. David N. Pincus in memory of Anne d'Harnoncourt. Pincus, 83, who watched Wednesday's installation for hours, acquired one of three big plugs (the other two are at the St. Louis Art Museum and the Allen Art Museum, Oberlin College), early in the 1970s and, with the artist's assistance, installed it in his Wynnewood backyard. From what I read, his grown children didn't want him to part with it but his thinking was art is meant to be shared.
Most of the art at the museum was composed by artists who are deceased. This artist who made the plug is still thankfully alive so we can at least have an idea what is going through his head with regards to his work. His thoughts about the art are: Well, let’s say it’s cubistic if cubistic sculpture has to do with sensing the third dimension or knowing the other side of something. One of the nicest things about the Three-Way Plug is that it’s built up of symmetrical forms, so that if you look at one side, you know what the other side looks like. In the steel version, which is always half-buried, you know what’s under the ground by what’s over the ground – because you know that it repeats itself. The three-way plug is also known as a “cube tap” in some parts of the country. “Cube tap” is a nice handle. SOURCE
and a final comment:
The three-way electrical plug first appeared in Oldenburg's work in 1965, in a charcoal drawing that made this familiar household object look like a dripping popsicle. Oldenburg constructed a large three-dimensional cardboard plug in the same year and soon began further material exploration with versions in bronze, steel, canvas, and mahogany. In 1970, Oldenburg’s plug achieved monumental stature in this Cor-Ten steel and bronze version from an edition of three. Its magnified scale lends the original model for the three-way plug, a standard American design made of Bakelite, a formal affinity with architecture. SOURCE