Iconic Venice Beach Sculpture and Landmark to be Removed, Returned to Artist’s Property

Since the Money, Effort or Desire to Purchase the Piece Appears to Not Be There, the Artist Wants It Back

By Zach Armstrong

“Declaration”, an easily-recognizable 60-foot-tall steel sculpture which has been situated along the Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk for over twenty years, is slated for removal after the L.A. Louver Art Gallery (LAG) failed to raise sufficient funds or find a benefactor to make the piece permanent.

An exact timeline for its displacement hasn’t been determined. The artwork will be disassembled and returned to the private property of the artist who created it. 

The 50,000 lbs. artwork and landmark was created by Mark di Suvero; an abstract expressionist sculptor who won the Smithsonian Archives of American Art Medal and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Sculpture. The L.A. Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners approved the structure in 2000 as a temporary installation for the Venice Art Walk. Four years later, the board approved its permanent placement on the condition that LAG purchase and donate it to the City. Therefore, no public funds were spent on it. 

According to a recent agenda item from a board meeting, LAG never purchased and donated the statue. 

According to Kimberly Davis, Director of LAG, the City of Los Angeles created a $100,000 fund to reimburse LAG for liability insurance it paid since the artwork’s construction. However, Davis told Mirror Media Group the City has never reimbursed the gallery and spent those funds “elsewhere.” 

In recent years, LAG has both seeked a benefactor and undergone a fundraising campaign to acquire the sculpture. No benefactor has stepped up and LAG raised less than $2 million via pledges; a fraction of various estimates on the piece. Its retail value is $7 million, according to Davis.

Suvero, 90, is requesting that, since the money, effort or desire to purchase the piece appears to not be there, he wants it back, said Davis. Authorization for conceptual removal was approved by the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners in a Jan. 18 meeting.

News tip of the removal was shared by Robin Murez, public artist and chair of Venice Neighborhood Council Preserving Public Places Committee.

in Hard, News
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