Galla Placidia in Philadelphia and Topkapi Pullman (1985)

by Joyce Kozloff (1942 - )

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

    Galla Placidia in Philadelphia and Topkapi Pullman

  • Artist

    Joyce Kozloff (1942 - )

  • Year

    1985

  • Location

    One Penn Center (interior), 1617 John F. Kennedy Boulevard; Hours: 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., M–F

  • Medium

    Glass and ceramic mosaic

  • Dimensions

    Galla Placidia: height 13′; width 14’4″ Topkapi Pullman: height 13′; width 16′

  • Themes

    Women and Public Art

Commissioned by developer Richard I. Rubin

Owned by the property owner

At A Glance

  • Two decorative and symbolic mosaic murals commissioned as part of the renovation of One Penn Center

  • Galla Placidia in Philadelphia alludes to the mosaic interior of a mausoleum built for the 5th Century Byzantine empress Galla Placidia

  • William Penn holds the charter of Pennsylvania in Galla Placidia in Philadelphia

  • Topkapi Pullman includes floral motifs adapted from the harem rooms of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

“Decoration,” Joyce Kozloff has said, “is where painting and sculpture meet architecture.” For the lobby of One Penn Center, the building that serves as an entrance to Suburban Station, she complemented the elaborate Art Deco architecture with two highly decorative and symbolic mosaic murals, which were commissioned by developer Richard I. Rubin as part of the overall renovation of this 1929 building.

Galla Placidia mosaic
Galla Placidia. Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art.

Galla Placidia in Philadelphia alludes to the mosaic interior of a mausoleum built in Ravenna, Italy, for the fifth-century Byzantine empress Galla Placidia. In Kozloff’s work, vertical columns of gold, dark red, and brown create an illusionary three-dimensional vault. At the top of the vault, within a patterned arch, the figure of William Penn stands holding the charter of Pennsylvania in his hand against a blue sky. (The corresponding site in the Byzantine mausoleum bears a Christian allegory of Christ as the Good Shepherd.)

Topkapi Pullman
Topkapi Pullman. Photo Maxine Mendoza © 2008 for the Association for Public Art.

Topkapi Pullman, on the opposite side of the lobby, includes floral motifs adapted from the harem rooms of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Through an arched doorway the viewer sees a streamlined image of “The Standard Railroad of the World” – borrowed from an Art Deco poster for the Orient Express – that captures the magic associated with railroads.

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

 

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