Claes Oldenburg sculpture to adorn Philadelphia's new Lenfest Plaza

Lenfest Plaza perspective; Rendering courtesy of OLIN
Lenfest Plaza perspective; Rendering courtesy of OLIN

In late August, a towering 53-foot high sculpture of a paintbrush with illuminated bristles, created by world-renowned American artist Claes Oldenburg, will make its home at the start of Philadelphia's expanding "Museum Mile."

The monumental sculpture, titled Paint Torch, will be installed on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ (PAFA) new Lenfest Plaza at a daring 60-degree angle, as if in the act of painting. A 6-foot high glob of paint will appear beside it on the ground and the illuminated tip of the brush will light up at night.

Designed by the award-winning landscape architecture firm OLIN, Lenfest Plaza is a dynamic new outdoor civic space slated to regularly hold public events and feature rotating works of art by emerging and established artists.

There will also be outdoor seating, a stage, and an upscale restaurant in this 24-hour pedestrian plaza which links PAFA's two buildings across from the expanded Convention Center.

Importantly, Lenfest Plaza and PAFA's world-class collection of American art will connect to "Museum Mile" cultural destinations on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway: the relocated Barnes Foundation (opening in 2012), the Academy of Natural Sciences, The Franklin Institute, the Rodin Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“As an addition to Philadelphia’s urban fabric, Lenfest Plaza accomplishes so many significant goals in the continued positive growth of this great city,” says project architect and OLIN partner David A. Rubin.

PAFA will hold an official opening party for the new plaza and a lighting ceremony for Paint Torch on October 1, 2011, featuring activities and entertainment for all ages.

The plaza is named for art patrons Marguerite and H. F. Gerry Lenfest whose financial gift was augmented by support from the City of Philadelphia and other patrons.

Occupying half a block of Cherry Street (between North Broad and Carlisle), Lenfest Plaza is currently under construction through the summer. Complete event programming will be announced soon. Visit for up-to-date information on plaza construction and detailed event information.

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