Category Archives: Sculptures

Arthur Kraft 1962 Chicago’s Randhurst Shopping Center Penguins and Walrus Sculptures

Children playing on the penguins at the Randhurst Shopping Center, 1962

Upon its completion in 1962, Randhurst was billed as the “largest shopping center under one roof in the world” and was the first fully enclosed shopping center in Chicagoland.

Commissioned by Victor Gruen, architect of the Randhurst Shopping Center in Mount Prospect, Illinois. The Arthur Kraft sculptures were installed in 1962 and dedicated on August 16, 1962.

Arthur Kraft working on the walrus sculpture in his Kansas City studio.

Arthur Kraft's preliminary sketches for his penguin and walrus sculptures.

Kraft was commissioned to create two sets of sculptures. A trio of penguins and a trio of walruses. The sculptures portray three stylized penguins with their flippers spread standing around facing inwards. The three stylized walruses were created in a fun circular pattern.

Children playing on the walruses at the Randhurst Shopping Center, 1962

In the 1980’s the shopping center was remodeled, a huge food court installed, and many of the Gruen-era features removed.

In 2011, after a long period of decline, Randhurst underwent a $190 million overhaul that involved demolishing most of the original center and replacing it with an open-air street of shops and additional anchor tenants.

Arthur Kraft Penguin sculptures | Randhurst Shopping Center in Mount Prospect, Illinois

Arthur Kraft Walrus sculptures | Randhurst Shopping Center in Mount Prospect, Illinois

The penguin sculptures are very similar to Arthur Kraft’s other penguin sculptures that was originally created in 1960 for the Glendale Shopping Center in Indianapolis, Indiana and is still on display at the Glendale Town Center Library entrance. And they are also similar to Kansas City’s “Court of the Penguins” Fountain at the Country Club Plaza that were cast posthumously in 1979 and dedicated on October 10, 1979.

Penguins at the Glendale Town Center in Indianapolis, Indiana

Court of the Penguins at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri

 

Today, two out of the three of Arthur Kraft’s Randhurst Shopping Center bronze penguins have been located in Skokie, Illinois. The sculptures are being used as lawn ornaments for a condominium.

 

Skokie Boulevard Condominiums | Skokie, Illinois

Skokie Boulevard Condominiums | Skokie, Illinois

Skokie Boulevard Condominiums | Skokie, Illinois

Skokie Boulevard Condominiums | Skokie, Illinois

 

Arthur Kraft’s Walrus sculpture from the Randhurst Shopping Center is also being used as a lawn ornament at Kale Court Apartments in Skokie, Illinois.

 

Kale Court Apartments | Skokie, Illinois


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Carter Art Center 2003 Exhibition “Rediscovering Arthur Kraft”

Photos from the 2003 exhibition “Rediscovering Arthur Kraft” at the Carter Art Center, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, Missouri.

The exhibition was curated by Sherman Reed Anderson Ph.D.

Dr. Anderson also curated “The Art and Words of Arthur Kraft” for the Albrecht-Kemper Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri in 2002.

 

 

 

In support of the Arthur Kraft Scholarship, the FRIENDS of the Carter Art Center along with the MCC Foundation are selling original Arthur Kraft “Tree of Life” lithographs for $150. Lithographs are signed by Arthur Kraft and numbered.

To purchase one for your collection visit the Carter Art Center or click here for ordering information: http://mcckc.edu/pennvalley/art/friends

 

 

 

The Carter Center for Visual Arts

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Arthur Kraft 1979 Newspaper Article Featuring The Court of the Penguins

Star Magazine article by Georgia Kidd – December 2, 1979

Chic – Chic Piece

Sheep Piece by Henry Moore

Sculpture in public places is a continuing pleasure to the passerby (“Sheep Piece” is a great example) and it’s one of the things that has marked the development sponsored by the JC Nichols Co. It always gives us good things to look at. It’s easy not to think of the Nichols Co. as a public service organization when it is so visibly a commercial enterprise, but it must be said that it builds what it builds with real style and an attention to quality that few other folks would even think of putting into shopping centers. That style and quality is a community service.

The Court of the Penguins is a fine example. For sheer chic, you can’t beat these shops – a little Gucci here, some Crabtree & Evelyn there. But while most of the best things in life aren’t free, as the shops show us, some of the best things in the Court of the Penguins are: the Penguins themselves and their environment, which doesn’t cost a cent to enjoy.

The Penguins are five-foot bronze reproductions of miniatures, which originally stood at three to four inches tall by the late Arthur Kraft, a local artist famous for, among other things, the mural at Westport Bank, the mosaic mural at the Children’s Library and the sculpture in the garden at Commerce Bank.

Kraft’s work had a whimsical side (he once did an elephant on its back for a shopping center), and he particularly liked penguins. Three identical sets of these penguins were made and are in private collections in this area.

For admiring the bronze birds and their surroundings, there are three mahogany benches given to the Plaza customers by the Plaza Executive Business Women’s Club. Also look closely at the tile that pictures a pyramid of penguins, with a nice touch of humor, Miller Nichols had the initials of members of the Nichols Co. board of directors put onto the penguins with the premier penguin perched on the pile marked, of course, M.N.


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Arthur Kraft 1965 Kansas Citian Magazine Article “Home Savings Association Exhibition”

Kansas Citian Magazine article – September 1965

Arthur Kraft Art At Home Savings

Paintings, drawings and sculpture by Arthur Kraft, Kansas City artist, make up a one-month showing now through September 17 open to the public in the Main Lobby of Home Savings Association, 10th and Grand. All of the works are privately owned and on special loan from the homes of admirers of this brilliant and versatile artist, some of whose art is on permanent display in the Louvre, the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence and leading galleries in the United States.

Kraft is probably best known locally for his colorful, imaginative mosaic mural for the Children’s Entrance to the new Public Library at 12th and McGee, and the large hanging mural in the new Missouri Public Services Building. His sculptures of a family group is at the Walnut Street entrance of Commerce Trust. He also designed the much-admired stained glass windows of the Overland Park Christian Church.

Among the works on display at Home Savings are fine examples of Kraft’s many-faceted ability. Dominating the exhibit for sheer size and rich coloration is “Camelot,” a mural-size oil painting, and his graceful “Swan,” sculptured in heavy brass wire. Also included are a pair of original paintings on musical themes from a series Kraft made for Philharmonic programs, and a delightful sketch for the Youth Symphony. Others reflect the wide range of Kraft’s interest and talents, from a tiny “Dog” and owlets in a nest to his highly individualistic handling of a classic theme, “Leda and the Swan.”

The show is open to the public from 7:30 to 5:30 p.m. daily, Monday through Friday, on the first floor of the Home Savings Building, 10th and Grand.


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Arthur Kraft 1954 “This Week Magazine” Article Announcing New Detroit Northland Shopping Center Super-Sculptures

The Milwaukee Journal article by Emily Genauer – September 5, 1954

Super-Sculpture – A Detroit shopping center sets a surprising art style.

Twenty-five years ago a U.S. Customs official provoked a furor by ruling that modernist Constantin Brancusi’s “Bird In Space,” a piece of bronze vaguely resembling a five-foot-long cigar, was not art and so had to pay a tariff.

Since that famous ruling (subsequently reversed), what has happened to popular art taste in America constitutes a revolution. A good illustration of the surprising sophistication the U.S. public has developed is shown on this page. The huge Northland Shopping Center, outside Detroit, designed to serve 15 million people a year with the latest in marketing conveniences, might seem the last place in the world for modernist sculpture. But 13 examples of this most rarefied art form, mostly the bristling, praying-mantis barbed –wire type, have been strewn through the 161 acres of shops, gardens and plazas.

A 12-inch replica of a 24-foot-tall work has become a best selling souvenir item. A restaurant uses photographs of the sculpture on its menus. Shoppers identify various areas of the center with its art. “Meet me at the Peacock Terrace,” they say. (The peacock, by Arthur Kraft, is a network of bronze rods welded together with an acetylene torch.)

Peacock sculpture by Arthur Kraft
Peacock Terrace, Northland Shopping Center 1950's

The art was the idea of architect Victor Gruen. He says the public’s warm response is due to the fact that the sculpture injects “an emotion element” into the gigantic $20,000.000 project. The one condition Gruen laid on the six artists, chiefly of the Midwest, commissioned to execute models for the project, was that their work be light and airy. He needed pieces, he told them, that would be modern, “but fun to look at.”

His orders have been followed to the letter. Not even Gruen could have foreseen the trouble mothers would have dragging children off a big stone bear by Marshall Fredericks (see cover). Chances are even that the crusty customs official of 1929 would enjoy this art.

“The Cat that Swallowed the Canary” by Arthur Kraft and Gwen Lux
This sculpture is now part of the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum collection since 1988.


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Arthur Kraft 1979 Country Club Plaza “Court of the Penguins” Fountain

One of Arthur Kraft’s best known works in the Kansas City area is the “Court of the Penguins” Fountain at 525 Nichols Road on the Country Club Plaza.

The bronze penguin sculptures were cast posthumously in 1979 and dedicated on October 10, 1979.

The sculpture includes two free-standing pedestal fountains each approximately five feet tall on either side of the penguin grouping. There are three bronze penguins each approximately five feet tall, in varying positions of outstretched wings, on the east, west and south of a Spanish ‘clover-leaf’ area of paved brick.

The basins of each fountain are quatrefoil in shape and constructed of red stone. Each fountain has two basins, an upper and lower, which flow into one another. Three griffins, placed back-to-back, support the lower, larger basin. Figures of dolphins are featured between the griffins.

This sculpture is very similar to Arthur Kraft’s other penguin sculpture that he originally created in 1960 for the Glendale Shopping Center in Indianapolis, Indiana and is still on display at the Glendale Town Center Library entrance.

Arthur Kraft's Wynkin, Blynkin and Nod sculpture in Indianapolis, Indiana


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Arthur Kraft’s Commerce Trust Arcade Fountain “Family”

In 1960 Arthur Kraft was commissioned by the Commerce Trust Company to create a sculpture for their new fountain that was to be installed at the Commerce Bank of Kansas City at 922 Walnut, Kansas City, Missouri. Arthur created the 81 x 29 x 24 inch bronze sculpture entitled “Family”. The piece was cast by James Wenkie at the University of Kansas City foundry and the sculpture was dedicated on October 22, 1961. It remained part of the fountain at this location until 1973, when it was dismantled because of water leakage on the property.

The sculpture was then kept in storage until 1989 when it was reinstalled as a freestanding statue at the Executive Plaza Office Building at 720 Main, Kansas City, Missouri. A plaque at the base of the sculpture was also added at this time that read ARTHUR KRAFT | AMERICAN (1922-1977) | Family.

In 2006 the Executive Plaza Office Building was put up for sale by the owners Tower Properties and the sculpture has once again been removed from the downtown Kansas City landscape. Has the sculpture been placed back in storage, sold, destroyed? At this time the whereabouts of the Arthur Kraft bronze sculpture “Family” remains a mystery.

 

Excerpt from the 1985 book, “Fountains of Kansas City” by Sherry Piland

The Commerce Trust Company at 922 Walnut (formerly the Commerce Bank of Kansas City) is distinguished by a narrow arcade along its front, with arched openings serving as an elegant “front porch” for the building. The narrow rectangular space which is formed between the arcade and the building also functions much like a courtyard.

In 1961, a majestic fountain was installed within this space. Although a beautiful work, its setting was not ideal as the fountain pool was somewhat awkwardly placed on the risers of the steps leading into the building and its support appeared precarious at best.

The fountain was a design of artist and sculptor Arthur Kraft and was composed of a figural group set within a rectangular retaining basin. The life-size bronzes portrayed a family group of a man, woman, and young boy. The figures were placed in the center of the retaining pool, and a spray ring with an outside fall surrounded the perimeter of the circular base. Jets were placed elsewhere in the pool, and their arching sprays turned the water in toward the figures.

James Kemper, Jr., the downtown leader responsible for installing this fountain, was optimistic about the effects the work might have: “Ours had long been regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in America, and this fountain shows our desire to contribute to the beauty. We hope that this fountain with its artistic sculpture might be a forerunner of similar objects of beauty at other downtown commercial buildings.”

The bank originally intended to operate the fountain year-round, but, unfortunately, problems developed with a leak into a basement office.

Sometime around 1973 the fountain was removed and placed in storage. There is a strong possibility that it may find a new home and a setting that will work to its advantage in a downtown office building now under construction for Kemper’s firm, Commerce Bancshares.

 

www.kcfountains.com

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Arthur Kraft – Walrus Walled In

Newspaper clipping from the Spokane Daily Chronicle – Nov 18, 1960:

Walrus Walled In
Artist Arthur Kraft of Kansas City, Mo., contemplates his Big Problem: How to get Albert, his 400-pound plaster walrus, out of his studio. Kraft says one doesn’t stop to consider the size of doors while in the throes of artistic creativity-and Albert just grew and grew as he sculptured him. But Kraft has figured out an answer-he is having a large glass window and part of an inner partition in his apartment removed so Albert can gain his “freedom.”


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Arthur Kraft 1960 Indianapolis Glendale Shopping Center Penguins Sculpture

Commissioned by Victor Gruen, architect of the Glendale Shopping Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Arthur Kraft sculpture was installed in 1960 and dedicated on October 12, 1960.

The sculpture portrays three golden, stylized penguins with their flippers spread standing around a silver ball, facing inwards. The three unsigned polished bronze penguins dimensions are overall approximately 51 x 72 x 58 in. with the tallest penguin being approximately 51 x 30 x 33 in. (350 lbs.).

The shopping center was enclosed in the 1970s to become the Glendale Mall, situating the Arthur Kraft sculpture indoors at that time.

Penguins at the Glendale Mall, 2005

In 2008, after nearly 50 years of serving the Indianapolis community, Glendale Mall was completely redesigned. To commemorate the new Glendale Town Center’s expansive makeover and grand reopening, Indianapolis design company, Sandpaper Studio was commissioned to create a new environment for the penguin area.

The grand reopening occurred on July 26, 2008 and featured a snow canopy over the penguin statues, iceberg blocks and a mix of playful and historic images from Glendale’s past, the space created an environment that celebrated the Center’s historical community presence and its purpose in the future.

“Designers can make a social difference with local projects,” states Torrey Dawley, owner of Sandpaper Studio, “and we are really excited to be creating a new home for the penguins where they serve as symbols of community for another generation.”

Current location at the Glendale Town Center lower level Library entrance

 

From the Glendale Town Center website:

The Legends Live On at Glendale Town Center.
With the help of our wonderful sponsors, Glendale Town Center boasts a new home for Wynkin, Blynkin and Nod, Indianapolis’ adventurous penguin trio! The statues were originally created as a gift to the first opening of Glendale Mall nearly 50 years ago, and have since become symbols of our incredible community. Kids of all ages will enjoy the experience, so swing by for a visit! The Legends Live On area is open the hours of the Library and is located on the lower level at the Library entrance.


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