Missing Art of the Metroplex - Where Has Calder's Eagle Landed?
Alexander Calder's Sculpture 'The Eagle' was a downtown Fort Worth fixture for nearly 20 years. Where is it now?
When the 90 year old Fort Worth National Bank opened its new headquarters on the corner of Fifth and Throckmorton in 1972, they were looking for a piece of public art to make a statement in front of their 30 story glass tower. They commissioned noted artist Alexander Calder who was known for large abstract sculptures and his iconic art form, the mobile. (That's right, the mobile over your baby's crib is an art form created by Calder)
Calder's creation, one of his last before his passing, was a 39 foot statue titled The Eagle. For 17 years, the Eagle stood guard in downtown Fort Worth and became the city's most recognized piece of public art. But in 1999, the people of Fort Worth learned a hard lesson; there is a difference between public art and public owned art.
The ownership of The Eagle had actually passed through many hands during its stay in downtown. Fort Worth National Bank was bought out by Bank One, who sold the building and the Calder to a real estate investment company called Loutex. Loutex sold the sculpture to a group of investors, who tried to find a buyer to keep The Eagle here. When that search failed, the investors moved the sculpture out of town. That was the first time many angry Fort Worth citizens realized that this piece of public art was privately owned.
The first stop was Philadelphia, which was hoping to build a Calder Museum. The investors lent The Eagle to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When patrons in Philadelphia couldn't come up with the asking price, Seattle stepped forward.
The Seattle Art Museum with the help of donors Jon and Mary Shirley bought The Eagle for $10 million and made it the centerpiece of their new Olympic Sculpture Garden. After a brief stay in front of the Seattle Museum of Asian Art, The Eagle landed in its new home in 2003.
While the Calder sits majestically i n the shadow of Seattle's Space Needle, one mystery remains. Who were the investors who bought the artwork and moved it out of downtown Fort Worth? That may never be known.