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“Unconditional Surrender”, Bayfront Park, Island Park Drive, City of Sarasota, Florida, USA / Artist: Seward Johnson / Built: 2005 / Height: 25 feet / Building Materials: Aluminum

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posted by [email protected] alias Photographer South Florida on Saturday 19th of June 2021 03:23:22 PM

Unconditional Surrender is a series of computer-generated sculptures by Seward Johnson that resemble a 1945 photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, V–J day in Times Square, but is said by Johnson to be based on a similar, less well known, photograph by Victor Jorgensen that is in the public domain. The first in the series was installed temporarily in Sarasota, Florida, then was moved to San Diego, California, and New York City. Others in the series have been installed in Hamilton, New Jersey; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Normandy, France. Johnson later identified the sculpture at exhibitions as "Embracing Peace" for the double entendre. Seward Johnson built a life-size bronze precursor to the huge statues of Unconditional Surrender using a computer, a technology that would be used to manufacture the entire series. A 25-foot (7.6 m)-tall styrofoam version of the statue was part of a temporary exhibition in Sarasota, Florida in 2005, at its bayfront. Johnson proceeded with the manufacture of aluminum versions of the 25-feet-tall statue, marketing them through a foundation he had created. He offered copies ranging from $542,500 for styrofoam (plastic), $980,000 for aluminum, and $1,140,000 for bronze. Johnson established the Sculpture Foundation to disseminate his work. After being exhibited in Florida, the plastic copy of the statue was moved to San Diego, California, on a flatbed truck. The second place to exhibit Unconditional Surrender was in Tuna Harbor Park (formerly G Street Mole Park) where the Port of San Diego installed one temporarily in 2007. The statue, made of a foam core with a urethane outer layer, was scheduled to be on loan through August 2010; however, it remained installed until May 2012, when it was dismantled and shipped to New Jersey for restoration. The placement of the statue was criticized by multiple people. Robert L. Pincus, an art critic of The San Diego Union-Tribune, said that according to "theme-park logic" the statue suited the site, in front of the Midway Aircraft Museum, and that it pleased couples who mimicked the pose, but that it was kitsch and "The figures look like something from a cheap souvenir factory, blown up beyond any reason." Other critics stated that the statue "was not artistically or [a]esthetically pleasing." Interest in a revisit to Sarasota in 2009 was cultivated by a director of a bay-front biannual show and an aluminum copy was placed at the bay-front, again temporarily. An "88-year-old donor, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II" offered to pay half a million dollars for it against an initial asking price of $680,000. While some members of the community supported the statue, others felt the statue was not good enough to be displayed on the bayfront. The chairwoman of the public art committee at the time said that "it doesn't even qualify as kitsch...It is like a giant cartoon image drafted by a computer emulating a famous photograph. It's not the creation of an artist. It's an artist copying a famous image." The statue was immediately controversial, with some people calling for its removal for various reasons, including the fact that it may constitute copyright infringement, as well as concern about its content representing a sexual assault. Joel May, a Sarasota architect and a member of the city's public art committee, raised an issue of possible copyright infringement, because of the similarity of the sculpture to V–J day in Times Square, published in Life in 1945 and still protected by copyright. Johnson asserted that he was aware of this issue, and had used another photograph of the kissing couple taken by Victor Jorgensen, which is in the public domain. The attorney for the municipal government said that the attorneys for Johnson and the donor had fulfilled the requirements set by the city commission, making way for the exhibition of the statue for at least ten years. An automobile crash occurred on April 26, 2012, during which the Sarasota copy of the statue was struck by a vehicle and was damaged. The impact knocked an approximately 3-foot-wide hole in the sailor's foot and added hairline cracks to its frame. This led to the statue being taken down by the city, which laid the statue onto its side, close to the site, while insurance companies negotiated over liability and repair issues. The minimum distance for a road hazard established by the state of Florida is fourteen feet, but the location barely met that standard because it was erected near one of the busiest and most complex intersections in the city. The statue attracted visitors who gathered around the base and often backed up to the curb to take photographs. No one was present when the automobile jumped the curb and careened into the statue. The debate about returning the statue to that location ensued, with an editorial calling for moving the statue to a safer location, as had been advocated by critics before the statue was placed for the controversial ten-year display. The statue was re-erected near the Sarasota shoreline in December 2012. A similar controversy was occurring in California. In March 2012, the San Diego Unified Port District voted to purchase a permanent bronze replacement for the loaner. This controversial move resulted in the resignation of three board members. Despite the controversy, construction of the new weather-resistant bronze statue proceeded, in part due to a fundraising campaign by the Midway Museum that raised US$1 million. Credit for the data above is given to the following websites" © All Rights Reserved - you may not use this image in any form without my prior permission.

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  • Published 07.03.22
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