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Calder Sculpture Donated to Detroit Institute of Arts by AT&T
Young Woman and Her Suitors, Alexander Calder, 1970.

DETROIT, MI.- “Young Woman and Her Suitors,” a sculpture by renowned sculptor Alexander Calder that stands 35 feet high and weighs 17 tons, is set to see the light of day for the first time in two years. The sculpture, donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) by AT&T last October, formerly anchored the exterior plaza of the AT&T building at Cass and Michigan avenues in Detroit. The sculpture has undergone conservation treatment to bring it back to its original splendor, which includes repainting it from red to black.

“We are extremely grateful to AT&T for this generous gift, which was announced officially last October,” said Graham W.J. Beal, DIA director. “We had to delay installation until weather conditions were appropriate. This monumental sculpture will become a landmark on John R and contribute to the University Cultural Center Association’s drive to beautify the spaces connecting the midtown cultural institutions.”

Individual pieces of the sculpture began to arrive at the DIA during May for assembly. Once the sculpture was put together, it was cleaned and painted. A formal dedication ceremony will take place later this summer.

Michigan State Senator Buzz Thomas, who was instrumental in coordinating the gift, said it was important to keep the sculpture in Detroit. “This sculpture is a Detroit treasure and has been for more than 30 years,” Thomas said. “I am so pleased that AT&T decided to continue its commitment to our city by donating it to the DIA and making it available for viewing for generations to come.”

“Along with our over 12,000 AT&T colleagues who grew up and live here in Michigan, I am thrilled to be able to share a part of our history in Detroit with the future of the DIA,” said Gail Torreano, president of AT&T Michigan. “We are proud to have had this beautiful work of art outside our offices for all of these years, but the Detroit Institute of Arts is the best location for it to be on display for years to come. It is exciting to know that this piece can be viewed at the DIA by future generations of visitors and students from all over Detroit, Michigan and the world.”

Originally purchased in 1970 by Michigan Bell, “Young Woman and Her Suitors” (Jeune fille et sa suite) stood at the corner of Cass and Michigan avenues from 1972 until 2006. It was uninstalled in April 2006 for conservation treatment, which included repainting the sculpture from red to its original black. As a sculptor, Calder completed more than 20 monumental works that stand between 20 and 65 feet tall. “Young Woman and Her Suitors,” approximately 35 feet high by 27.5 feet wide by 19 feet deep, figures among these majestic compositions that grace public spaces around the world.

The sculpture’s central image is a feminized curvilinear shape flanked by vertical or masculine forms. The combination of the rounded and more geometric shapes suggests an interaction, or dialogue, between a young girl and her entourage.

Alexander Calder was born in 1898 into a family of artists; his father was a sculptor and his mother was a painter. Originally trained as an engineer, Calder challenged conventional sculpture form by bending and twisting wires to literally draw in space, and he experimented with motion and balance as integral components of a form, thus revolutionizing concepts of mass. He created mobiles (3-D forms that move) and stabiles (static sculpture). In the 1930s, Calder started constructing outdoor sculptures. His first titan, “Teodelapio,” was completed in 1962 and spanned a roadway in Spoleto, Italy. In 1969, Calder concentrated on large-scale commissioned works, including “La grande vitesse,” the first public artwork to be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts for the city of Grand Rapids, Mich.

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