Milord la Chamarre (1973)

by Jean Dubuffet (1901 - 1985)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    Milord la Chamarre

  • Artist

    Jean Dubuffet (1901 - 1985)

  • Year

    1973; installed 1976; relocated 1990

  • Location

    Market Street between 15th and 16th Streets

  • Medium

    Stainless steel with black epoxy paint (granite platform on stainless steel column)

  • Dimensions

    Height 24′ (base height 5'2", column height 10’2″)

Acquired by Jack Wolgin

Owned by the property owner

At A Glance

  • Installed in 1976 as part of the Redevelopment Authority’s 1% program

  • The developer was attracted by figure’s resemblance to a Philadelphia mummer in costume

  • The title translates roughly to “My Lord of the Fancy Vest”

  • “Milord” resembles a giant jigsaw puzzle, an effect both disturbing and humorous

In acquiring Milord la Chamarre for Centre Square, developer Jack Wolgin was attracted by the figure’s resemblance to a Philadelphia mummer in costume. The title translates roughly to “My Lord of the Fancy Vest,” but local people often refer to the work as “The Mummer.” Along with Oldenburg’s Clothespin, Milord was installed in 1976 as part of the Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program.

An example of the style Jean Dubuffet termed l’art brut, a raw art untouched by convention, Milord la Chamarre resembles a giant jigsaw puzzle, an effect both disturbing and humorous. Milord looks boastful about his fancy vest; with his open mouth and hands-out strut, he is a bit ridiculous, a bit fearsome, a bit sad – much like Everyman. Originally placed in the atrium of Centre Square in 1976, the 5,000-pound work was relocated to the exterior when the building’s new owners embarked on a major renovation.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

 

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