Cupid's Span

Rincon Park, San Francisco, California.

Stainless steel, structural carbon steel, fiber-reinforced plastic, cast epoxy, polyvinyl chloride foam; painted with polyester gelcoat
64 ft. x 143 ft. 9 in. x 17 ft. 3/8 in.

Commissioned by D&DF Foundation, San Francisco
Installed November 2002

Cupid's Span, 2002 Cupid's Span, 2002 Cupid's Span, 2002

Statement by the Artists

Cupid's Span, 2002 Inspired by San Francisco's reputation as the home port of Eros, we began our project for a small park on the Embarcadero along San Francisco Bay by trying out the subject of Cupid's stereotypical bow and arrow. The first sketches were made of the subject with the bowstring drawn back, poised on the feathers of the arrow, which pointed up to the sky.

Cupid's Span, 2002 When Coosje van Bruggen found this position too stiff and literal, she suggested turning the image upside down: the arrow and the central part of the bow could be buried in the ground, and the tail feathers, usually downplayed, would be the focus of attention. That way the image became metamorphic, looking like both a ship and a tightened version of a suspension bridge, which seemed to us the perfect accompaniment to the site. In addition, the object functioned as a frame for the highly scenic situation, enclosing -- depending on where one stood -- either the massed buildings of the city's downtown or the wide vista over the water and the Bay Bridge toward the distant mountains.

As a counterpoint to romantic nostalgia, we evoked the mythological account of Eros shooting his arrow into the earth to make it fertile. The sculpture was placed on a hill, where one could imagine the arrow being sunk under the surface of plants and prairie grasses. By slanting the bow's position, Coosje added a sense of acceleration to the Cupid's Span. Seen from its "stern," the bow-as-boat seems to be tacking on its course toward the white tower of the city's Ferry Building.

cupidsspan, 2002 cupidsspan, 2002 cupidsspan, 2002

Interview Excerpt with Coosje van Bruggen

Increasingly, the dynamics of the context influence our work. We moved away from the specific object or monolithic sculpture that draws all energy into itself, in favor of a looser, freer configuration that emits the reflected energies of the urban surroundings. The large-scale projects, in their hybridization, fragmentation, and scattering of objects, and in their relation to prominent features in the skyline, became both anchored to the site and expanded beyond it. Examples include the Batcolumn, in which the diamond pattern of criss-crossing steel bars relates to the Hancock Building in Chicago, and the Cupidís Span for Rincon Park in San Francisco, which not only frames the splendid vista of the bay and its bridge but also, through the angles

at which bow and arrow are set in the landscape, evokes sailboats tacking in a direction diagonal to the traffic that flows alongside the sculpture.

Situated on the ground, on the street, along the banks of a river or in the median of a road, our large-scale projects are objects in transition. Through precision of contour, shape, hue, and the freezing of a specific moment in time, they can be read as still life. Yet, perceived over time, these sculptures become emotive signs, the identification of a park, a building, a neighborhood, or even an entire city.

Taken from an interview with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen by Ida Gianelli: 'Solitude for Two, Shared: A Walk with Ida Gianelli', as printed in Claes Oldenburg Coosje van Bruggen: Sculpture By the Way. Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Torino, 2006, pp. 22-23. Exhibition catalogue.



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