Tag Archives: sculpture

Arthur Kraft 1959: Well-Known K.C. Artist Is Beaten and Robbed

Newspaper clipping from the Lawrence Daily Journal-World – October 8, 1959:

Well-Known K.C. Artist Is Beaten and Robbed
Arthur Kraft, 38, well known Kansas City artist, was beaten and robbed in a parking lot Wednesday night.

Kraft was named by the Junior Chamber of Commerce as one of the 10 outstanding young men in the nation in 1954.

Police said he apparently was struck repeatedly on the head and face with a pistol butt as he started to enter his car at 5050 Main. His billfold, containing $20, and a watch were taken.

He was taken to a hospital, where attendants said his condition was satisfactory.

Kraft is working on several sculptures for a new shopping center in Indianapolis and on murals for Kansas City’s new public library.

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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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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.



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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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