Sunday, March 28, 2010

On the sculpture trail: “Phoenix” by Alexander Liberman next to LA Brea Tar Pits

Phoenix is the firebird, known from ancient mythology and symbolizing, among other things, the cycle of fire, ash, and rebirth. The Phoenix installation by artist Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman (1912-1999), which is a uniformly painted bright red steel sculpture, may remind people, driving along Wilshire Boulevard between Downtown Los Angeles and Beverly Hills [1], of a swirling fire. “Phoenix” appears to be the red version of its brother sculpture “Ulysses,” which is standing a few miles away, off Fourth Street on Bunker Hill in Downtown L.A. [2].

Liberman's “Phoenixsculpture (1974-75), a gift of Anna Bing Arnold, is located in the outdoor section of the L.A. County Art Museum (5905 Wilshire BLVD.), bordering Hancock Park, which exhibits a different kind of sculptures: life-size animations of extinct macro-fauna animals (though no firebirds) that were thriving in the L.A. area during the Pleistocene. Some animals died then around this location, not because of firebirds, but due to their trapping in coal tar pits. An oily, bubbling pond is still there, just a few steps northeast of “Phoenix.” Trails (short walking paths) through Hancock Park connect you with sculptures and sites giving some evidence of the Pleistocene and Holocene stages. This L.A. neighborhood is bubbling of synergy: celebrating the cycle—or confluence—of art, science, and imagination.

View-me-too pages
Phoenix painted steel sculpture 1974 by Alexander Liberman.
[2] On the sculpture trail: “Ulysses” by Alexander Liberman in Downtown Los Angeles.

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