Mapped: Peter Fischer's legacy enriches the art St. Louisans can enjoy
This may sound rather biblical. Back in 1998, it was as if the Gateway Foundation of St. Louis said, “Let there be light.”
And there was light indeed. Eventually, lots of it. After this luminous program began to roll radiantly through town, sunset meant important architectural buildings in our regional world came alive with light.
St. Louis’ famous water towers were first to be enveloped. There are only seven of this type in existence, according to John Maxwell, president of the Water Tower and Park Preservation Society. We have three. There is the double shafted Compton Hill tower on Grand Boulevard between Russell and Shaw; the Bissell “New Red” tower in north St. Louis at Blair and Bissel; and nearby, the Grand Avenue “Old White” tower at 20th Street and Grand Avenue, the apotheosis of the Corinthian column.
Next, after success with the water towers, and after years of negotiations with federal authorities, the most dramatic and monumental of designer Randy Burkett’s illuminations came to be – the lighting of our great civic symbol, Eero Saarinen’s soaring stainless steel celebration of Westward expansion. The switch was thrown on a cold and blustery night in 2001.
Lots of fingerprints were on that switch – those of the late C. Perry Bascom, executive director of the Gateway Foundation, and his successor, Christy Fox, are two important examples. Randy Burkett, the lighting designer, was certainly on hand. Local officials of the National Park Service were there.
M. Peter Fischer, however, was the switch master. He was the visionary philanthropist, the man above whose head a gigantic light bulb came on bright as sunshine. The lighting of the Arch and subsequent projects and finally Citygarden, all brought excitement and new civic value to life and to light as well.
In the same year as the Arch lighting, the Old Courthouse, at Market and Fourth -- like the Arch, a major feature of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – was illuminated, as was the Civil Courts Building eight blocks west at 12th and Market streets. In the next five years, nine other buildings, old and not-so-old, would be lighted, and in lighting them their standing as significant structures on the cityscape shone brightly, in daylight and nighttime luminance, pretty much 24 hours a day.
Peter Fischer died at his house on Cape Cod in July. His death spelled a significant loss of civic and artistic leadership in St. Louis. He was a second-generation philanthropist and it was he who was responsible for making the electrical connection for all of this.
Adding to public art
But he did not stop at lighting. In addition, he assumed the role of grand acquisitor in assembling a collection of sculptures owned by the Gateway Foundation and placed in prominent public spaces around the city. (A map is below, but we have found it is not working in all browsers. ) He also was the brains behind the conception of the locally celebrated and nationally honored Citygarden, which recently marked its sixth anniversary.
The late Teresa and Aaron Fischer founded the Gateway Foundation. Their son, Peter, carried on the tradition of civic generosity they established, dedicating much of the foundation’s resources to public art and urban planning.
The foundation brought the luminous siblings of light and art to the cityscape in the early years of the 21st century. The legacy, with Citygarden as its heart and focus, will extend far beyond the period beginning in 1998 and continuing along strongly until the present day.
The keys to Citygarden’s success – its contractual protection from meddling by city officials; its perpetual maintenance by the Gateway Foundation; Gateway’s control of what would and would not be permitted on the premises; all this was noted well at the 2009 St. Louis Award ceremony as conditions for a successful urban project.
Planning to avoid mediocrity
What is more, in a remarkably candid speech, he challenged the civic leaders assembled in the AT&T building downtown to do a better job in urban planning and development.
Generally, awards speeches are pleasant, grateful and often humorous, but rarely are they pointedly directed in tone and content to specific knotty St. Louis issues. In his speech, Fischer addressed urban design issues in general and St. Louis design challenges in particular. He spoke of an obligation to opt for quality and, equally important, resisting please-everybody mediocrity.
He warned of the danger of accepting projects without first having a clear, professionally evaluated sense of the work’s contribution to or distraction from the quality of our community. He warned pointedly of the deleterious effects of accepting second-rate designs or giving over public spaces to commercial builders.
"We want great and brilliant design for our public spaces,” he said. “We do not want design of public spaces offered by developers, for the result be likely be a function of the developer's bottom line and their own narrow interest -- not 'world class' excellence."
In its report on Fischer’s speech, the St. Louis Beacon said he acknowledged that good design and its implementation is costly. Citygarden, for example, cost between $25 million and $30 million. None of the money came from public treasuries.
At the time, he told about going to Montreal with a group of Washingtonians to check out the Canadian city’s transit system. The group had lunch with the mayor of Montreal, and someone asked how he found the money to build such a fine system.
The mayor answered, "We just did it," and continued, “If Montreal had worried about where we were going to get the money and all the other formidable obstacles, and we never would have built it."
Peter Fischer said that was his message to the region in accepting its St. Louis Award: “Do it. And do it right.”
In addition to the speech’s being remarkable for its candor, it was remarkable that Fischer came out of his usual zone of anonymity to present it in public and on the record. He was not a reluctant philanthropist at all; in fact, for causes he considered worthy, such as Citygarden and the lighting projects and the placement of individual pieces around town he was, while thrifty in many ways, quite prepared to part with the substantial sums necessary to acquire works and to build spaces of the highest standards. His largesse extended, anonymously, to other projects he considered worthy.
But he was reluctant to be in the limelight. Thus, the art purchased and placed by the Gateway Foundation may not all be recognized. Below are the works of art purchased by the Gateway Foundation in recent years, along with brief biographies of the artists who created them. The Gateway Foundation provided some of the information on the artists and their work. The locations of the works of art are noted as well here and on the accompanying map.
(We have learned of a technical problem that may prevent the interactive map from displaying. If you do not see that graphic immediately below, you can follow this link.)
Scarecrow (2006) and
Walking Figure (2003-2004)
Donald Baechler is a Baltimore-born American artist, born in 1958. He studied at the Maryland Institute of Art; at Cooper Union in New York City and at the Staedelschule of the Academy of Fine Arts, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The Staedelschule was established for talented young artists and serves an international student body. Today, he lives and works in New York City.
Scarecrow can be found in the Citygarden’s “Mound” at 10th and Chestnut streets; Walking Figure perambulates in front of 720 Olive Street.
FERNANDO BOTERO ANGULO
Man on Horse (1999)
Fernando Botero’ s eccentric and voluminous art is often satirical: his obscenely obese subjects earned his work designation as Boterismo. His Man on Horse, which makes fun of the studied equestrian monuments of the past, is a good example. Born in 1932 in Medelin, Columbia, he studied at the Accademia of San Marco in Florence in 1953. He was appointed professor of painting at the Art Academy of Bogota in 1958, and in 1959, he won a Guggenheim prize at the Biennial Exhibition of San Paulo. He lives in Paris. His Man on Horse stands strong at the intersection of Hanley Road and Wydown Boulevard.
Untitled (Two Rabbits) (2004)
Thomas Johannes Franciscus Claassen was born in 1964 in the Netherlands, and lives there now. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts and Design St. Joost in Breda from 1984 to 1989. In 1994 he was awarded the Charlotte Kohler Prijs. In addition to making art, he teaches at the University of Nijmegen. Once a St. Louis photographer had the good fortune to spot actual bunnies hanging around Claassen’s sculptures in Citygarden. The sculptures are in the southwest corner of the park, near 10th Street.
Clarke was born in 1961 in Bury St. Edmunds, England. He learned casting from his father, the artist Geoffrey Clarke, whose work was chiefly ecclesiastical. In 1981 Jonathan Clarke began exhibiting, launching a career that has taken him and his work all over Britain and around the world as well, His sculptures, like his father’s, often deal with theological themes and ideas. Lifestyle is installed on the south edge of Citygarden, near the intersection of 13th and Market streets.
Tony Cragg was born in 1949 in Liverpool. From 1969 to 1972 he attended the Wimbledon School of Art, and from 1973 to 1977, he studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. He moved to Germany in 1977. In 1988, Cragg won the coveted Turner Prize in Britain, and in 2007, received the Praemium Imperiale, presented by the Japan Arts Association. Taurus is installed at Florissant Valley Community College, 3400 Pershall Road, Florissant.
NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE
Adam and Eve (1985-1989)
Niki de Saint Phalle was born in 1930, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. In 1937, she moved to New York City, where she made a big splash in the fashion world, and in 1948-1949 worked as a successful fashion model. She returned to France in 1952 and began studying art. A successful sculpture career followed and it included her winning the 12th Praemium Imperial Prize in Japan, in 2000. (Adam and Eve not on view at this time. )
Big White Gloves, Big Four Wheels (2008)
Heart Called Orchid (2003)
Weathered Venus (2004)
Dine, one of the most popular and prolific of living American artists, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935. Four years after receiving, in 1957, BFA from Ohio University, Dine had his first one-man exhibition at the celebrated Martha Jackson Gallery in New York. By 1980 he had been elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Weathered Venus (2004) is at Forest Park Community College; Heart Called Orchid (2003) is at the Sheldon Art Galleries and Four Big Wheels (2008) are fixed to Pinocchio’s on the north side center of Citygarden.
MACO POLO (Mark) DI SUVERO
Aesop’s Fables (1990)
Mark Di Suvero is one of world’s most dynamic and sought-after artists. He was born in Shanghai in 1933, and came to the United States in 1941. He studied at San Francisco City College, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at the University of California, Berkeley, from which he received a B.A. in philosophy before beginning his sculpturing career. His geometric assembly of beams painted bright orange, Aesop’s Fables (1990), is installed on the north side of Citygarden, just west of 10th Street.
Nijinski Hare (1996)
Thinker On Rock (1997)
Flanagan was born in Prestatyn, North Wales, in 1941. He attended the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts in London, from 1957-’58 and later, he attended St. Martin's School of Art. In 1996, he received the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Flanagan’s playful and exuberant sculptures are enormously popular. His Thinker on Rock (1997) – an obvious rabbit reference to Rodin’s famous Thinker – is at Washington University in St. Louis adjacent to Graham Chapel. In Nijinski Hare, Flanagan not only celebrated the great dancer but also the freedom the body achieves in dance. Nijinski Hare is installed across the street from the Scottrade Center and adjacent to the Gateway Multimodal Center. Flanagan died in 2009.
Born in Uccle, Belgium, in 1934, Folon has had a long and successful career as an illustrator and sculptor. He has been published in Esquire, The New Yorker, Fortune, and other periodicals, and also illustrated the works of Franz Kafka and Ray Bradbury. One of the most quietly affecting sculptures in Citygarden is his peaceful Voyage. It is nestled in on the north side of Citygarden, near the spray plaza in the park’s middle tier, a sculptural moment of serenity in the middle of a busy city.
Ford was born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1961, and attended the Bath Academy of Art and the Chelsea School of Art from 1978-1983. After traveling and lecturing in India for a year, she returned to the United Kingdom, where she received numerous grants and awards for her work, including the Scottish Arts Council Grant in 2006. Today, she lives and works in London. Her monumental bronze bird stares at Citygarden’s restaurant on the north side of the park, near the intersection of Chestnut and Eighth streets.
Fish on a Bicycle (1998)
Gregory was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1952. From 1970-1972 he attended St. Martin's College of Art, London, and in 1977 he won the Worshipful Company of Masons prize. In 2004 he was elected Artist Friend at Jesus College, Cambridge. An Internet biography describes him as having a wicked sense of humor, one certainly demonstrated in Fish on a Bicycle, a sculpture installed in University City at Big Bend and Delmar boulevards.
Untitled (Ringed Figure) (1987)
Haring was born in Reading, Pa., in 1958. He studied in Pittsburgh before moving to New York, to attend the School of Visual Arts. In 1981 he held his first solo exhibition, and in 1986, he opened his own retail outlet, The Pop Shop. Haring produced over 50 public works between 1982 and 1990. Shortly before his death from AIDS in 1990, he established the Keith Haring Foundation. His vibrant, eclectic, stripped-to-essentials drawings made easy transitions to sculptural forms, seen clearly in Ringed Figure.
JOHN RAYMOND HENRY
John Henry was born in 1943 in Lexington, Kentucky. He attended the University of Kentucky, the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Today, he is known for his vivid large-scale public works. “Treemonisha” soars over the confluence of two major Interstate highways – I-44 and I-55 – in South St. Louis. While becoming simultaneously a bold visual welcome to St. Louis and the city’s Lafayette Square neighborhood, it also refers by name to Scott Joplin’s opera, “Treemonisha.”
Back Flip (1993)
Jones was born in Southampton, England, in 1937, and from 1959 to 1960, he attended the Royal College of Art in London. He has taught and resided in many schools, including UCLA, the University of California, Irvine and the Hochschule der Kunste in Berlin. His painted Cor-Ten steel sculpture Back Flip from 1993 brings animated life to the suburban intersection of Big Bend Boulevard and Lockwood Avenue in Webster Groves.
Grosser PfuBrub (2000)
Klinge was born in Heiligenstadt, Germany, in 1954. From 1980 to 1984 he studied sculpture at the Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany. In 1989 he established a studio in Stuttgart, and in 1994 he received the Felix Hollenberg Prize. The two rough-hewn, expressionistic sculptures from the Gateway collection are installed in the University City Loop, on opposite sides of the 6600 block of Delmar Boulevard.
Femmes au Perroquet (1952)
Léger, a painted, sculptor and filmmaker, was born in 1881, in Argentan, France. He studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in 1903 and in 1909, was ranked as one of the three major Cubists. After World War I, he worked as a set designer and sculptor, ending up in the United States, where he exhibited and taught. He died in 1955, in France. His relief sculpture – “Women with a Parrot” -- is rich in detail and vitality, and is a significant object indeed in the Gateway collection. The title refers to a painting by Gustave Courbet, whose “Femme au Perroquet” was the first painting of a nude by him to be accepted by the Paris Salon. The sculpture is at Citygarden on the south wall of the restaurant building.
La Riviere (1938-43)
Maillol was born in Banyuls-sur-Mer, France, in 1861, and he, like Léger, brings special modernist old master distinction to the collection. He studied sculpture at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in 1883. Until his death in 1944, Maillol took on many high-profile commissions and generated an impressive body of work to say the least. In 1994, the Maillol Museum opened in his hometown, Banyuls. La Riviere, appropriately, is installed in the split basin of Citygarden, which runs parallel to the restaurant building. The sculpture hovers above the water on its east end.
Seven Bronze Sculptures (1918-1950)
Angel Musician with flute, Angel Musician with pan-pipe, Angel Musician with curved horn, Dancing Girls, Sunglitter, Orpheus Fountain (male), Orpheus Fountain (female)
Carl Milles was born in Sweden in 1875. In 1892, he left school to apprentice with a cabinetmaker and carpenter, and later studied woodworking, carving and modeling at the Stockholm Technical School. Art came to him soon, and by 1955, the year of his death, Milles was celebrated internationally and was recipient of a myriad of honorary degrees and prizes. He is well represented in St. Louis. These Seven Bronze Sculptures are in the Missouri Botanical Garden, floating over a in a pool situated between its Flora Gate and the Climatron. Another ensemble of Milles’s work, the once controversial “The Meeting of the Waters,” is in a pool in the Aloe Plaza, across Market Street from Union Station.
Tai Chi Single Whip (1998)
Ju Ming was born in Miaoli, Taiwan, in 1938. From 1953 to 1957 he was apprenticed to a Buddhist statuary craftsman before he started sculpturing on his own. Influences of his early training as a woodcarver are seen clearly in the bold, muscular fashioning of his work. From 1968 to 1976 he studied with Yang Yu-Yu. Awards followed, as did invitations to show his work in exhibitions.
Eros Bendato (1999)
Torso di Ikaro (2002)
Igor Mitoraj was born in Germany in 1944 and with his mother survived the saturation bombing that destroyed Dresden in 1945. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow in 1963. By 1980, he was presenting one-person exhibitions, and by 2000, exhibiting in museums and sculpture gardens. He opened a studio in Italy in 1983, where he works today. His work in St. Louis features details or sections of bodies. The sculptures have an eerie transparency and mystery. Torso di Ikaro (Torso of Icarus) is found in the Post Office Plaza on Locust Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets. Eros Bendato -- “Eros Bound” – rests in a pool on the southeast corner of the Citygarden, at Market and Eighth streets.
Nagare was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1923. He lived in several Buddhist temples in Kyoto before studying sword making at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, founded by his father. Because of his dedication to traditional values, he is sometimes called the Samurai Artist. After the war, in which he served as a Zero Fighter, Nagare began working with pottery, wood, and metal sculpture. In 1974, he received the Japan Arts Grand Prix Award. It is installed on the campus of the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
Bruce and Sara Walking and Kiera and Julian Walking (2002)
Opie was born in London in 1958. He attended Goldsmith's School of Art, University of London, from 1979 to 1982, and was awarded the Sargent Fellowship at the British School at Rome. In 2001, he won Best Illustration at Music Week CADS, for his work "Best of Blur." His mesmerizing animated, illuminated walking light sculptures -- Bruce and Sara Walking—and Kiera and Julian Walking (2002) are among the most popular works of art in Citygarden. They are found on the Ninth Street entrances to the eastern half of Citygarden.
Kindly Geppetto (2001)
The prolific Tom Otterness was born in Wichita, Kans., in 1952. In 1970, he studied at the Arts Students League in New York. In 1973, he moved to the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum in New York. In 1977, Otterness became a founding member of Collaborative Projects, Inc. in New York City. His work is often political, in spite of a superficial cheerfulness, and its relationship to fairy tales and myth. His sculpture Gulliver is at Meramec Community College in Kirkwood. Kindly Geppetto is installed in Citygarden east of the spray plaza near Ninth Street.
Paladino was born in 1948, in the southern Italian town of Paduli. He studied at the Liceo Artistico in the nearby town of Benevento. His first solo exhibition in 1969 was followed by a move to Milan, and since establishing residence there he has received numerous commissions in Italy and throughout Europe. His sculpture Zenit – a contemporary take on monumental equestrian sculptures with a star in place of a saddle – is located in the northwest corner of Citygarden.
Jelly Babies (2005)
Jelly Baby I (Blue), Jelly Baby I (Orange), Jelly Baby III (Purple)
Perucchetti was born in Milan, Italy, in 1949. He began his career in film, both as an actor and a producer. He later moved to London and established a successful, international interior design business. In 2000 he sold everything to devote his life to art. He is a pioneer in the formulation of polyurethane resins. These Jelly sculptures are installed in the recently and magnificently renovated Central Library in downtown St. Louis.
Puryear was born in 1941, in Washington, D.C. After graduating from the Catholic University of America in 1963, he joined the Peace Corps. After that service he continued his studies at Yale University. Puryear has received numerous grants and awards, including his Gold Medal for Sculpture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007. His untitled sculpture is one of the most striking works in the Citygarden ensemble, and is a creation in metal of his signature works in wood. Untitled is found at the eastern edge of the spray plaza and doubles as an outdoor settee.
Four Rectangles Oblique (1979)
Born in Indiana in 1907, and reared in Scotland, Rickey attended Trinity and Baillol Colleges, Oxford. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and studied art history at New York University. In 1972, Rickey received a Fine Arts Award from the American Institute of Architects. He died in 2002, in Minnesota. Four Rectangles Oblique is found in the center of the eastern half of the garden, near Ninth Street.
Shapiro was born in 1941 in New York City. He attended New York University and received his M.A. from there in 1969. His work, while minimalist in nature, is vigorous and enormously animated and in this piece appears to be a pared-down person dancing. One of his most affecting works is the huge Loss and Regeneration sculpture from 1993 at the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
Smith was born in South Orange, New Jersey, in 1912. From 1926 to 1936 he studied at numerous institutions, including Fordham, Georgetown and the Art Students' League. He taught at New York University and Hunter College. Smith died in 1980, but not before making an enormous impact on American art, particularly in his sculptures. He also was an architect and theorist. “Night,” an imposing and massive geometric form, is located near the restaurant in the northeast quarter of Citygarden.
Horse of Kenya (2003)
The Italian born artist Armando Tanzini has lived in Kenya for many years, taking on Kenyan citizenship, and is active principally in the tourism field, but works also as an architect and gallerist. Some of his works can be found in the collection of Kenya's president. “Horse of Kenya” is stabled in the Heman Park Centennial Commons Recreation Center at 7210 Olive Boulevard in University City.
2 ARCS x 4, 230.5 DEGREE ARC x 5 (1999-2000)
Venet was born in the Alpes de Haute-Provence in 1941. He studied in Nice until 1959 and moved to New York in 1966. He was awarded the French order of Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 2005, and the Robert Jacobsen prize for sculpture in 2006. His bold, whirling, geometric form, while steely-strong, has a certain delicacy and grace as well. His sculptural arcs are adjacent to the split basin in the northeast quarter of Citygarden.
China China (2003)
Zhu Wei was born in Beijing in 1966, and studied art at the Beijing Children's Palace. In 1982, he joined the People's Liberation Army; in 1992 his army unit was demobilized. He established his studio, Zhu Wei Art Den, in 1993. In 1998, he traveled to the United States, and in the traveling vein, his popular sculpture, China, China, is now at Lambert St. Louis Airport.
Big Suit (2010)
Wurm was born in Austria in 1954. Today, Wurm is largely known for his on-going One-Minute Sculpture series and his Fat House (2003) sculptures. He currently lives and works in Vienna and Limburg, Austria. Big Suit, standing tall on its classical pedestal, wears a pink suit which is quite empty inside. This work, which mocks monumentality, can be read as a metaphor for the condition of contemporary society.
Door of Return (2001)
Yasuda was born in Bibai, Japan, in 1945. After a move to Italy in 1970, to study with Pericle Fazzini in Rome, he went on to create numerous award winning works. In 2006, Yasuda was honored with the Order of the Star of the Italian Solidarity by the Italian Republic. Door of Return is serenely elegant and mysterious, marked with a strong streak of yellow at its zenith. It is positioned near Market Street in the southwest corner of the garden.
St. Louis native Youngerman was born here in 1926 and moved to Kentucky three years later. He studied art at the University of North Carolina, and later returned to study at the University of Missouri in Columbia, from which he graduated in 1947. He lived for a time in France but moved to New York in 1956. Today, he resides and works in Bridgehampton, Long Island, New York. His sculpture Samarkand is positioned near Eighth Street in the northeast quarter of Citygarden.