Playing Angels (1950)

by Carl Milles (1875 - 1955)

Photo Caption: Photo Gregory Benson © 2008 for the Association for Public Art
Kelly Drive at Fountain Green Drive
1950

  • Title

    Playing Angels

  • Artist

    Carl Milles (1875 - 1955)

  • Year

    1950; purchased 1968; installed 1972

  • Medium

    Bronze, on concrete bases

  • Dimensions

    Height 7′ (bases 20′–23′)

Purchased by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art)

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • Authorized casts from a group of originals at Millesgården in Stockholm – the artist’s former home, art museum, and a sculpture garden – purchased in 1968 and installed in 1972 by the Association for Public Art

  • Milles originally created five of these angels for a private site in Philadelphia, but the plans fell through and the angels were parceled out

  • The artist’s characteristically slender figures often have a childlike innocence and vulnerability that make them immediately appealing to the public

Angel sculptures with the Philadelphia skyline and Schuylkill River in the background
Photo © Alec Rogers for the Association for Public Art

Three slim angels concentrate raptly on their music as they hover above the grass along Kelly Drive. The work of Swedish-born artist Carl Milles, they are authorized casts of three originals at Millesgården in Stockholm, where they overlook that city’s harbor. Milles’ style combined conservative, pictorial elements with a poetic and popular spirit. His characteristically slender figures often have a childlike innocence and vulnerability that make them immediately appealing to the public.

Milles had originally created five Playing Angels, all intended for a private site in Philadelphia

Milles had originally created five Playing Angels, all intended for a private site in Philadelphia – a nursery or nursery school. When the plans dissolved, one angel went to Kansas City, a second went to Falls Church, Virginia, and the remaining three were incorporated into Millesgården, which authorized casts to be made for the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) for purchase. The Association purchased the angels in 1968 and installed them at their present site in 1972. Their placement on tall pedestals, similar to those at the Millesgården, was planned by the architectural firm of Bower and Fradley – a design awarded a silver medal by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

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

Detail of Carl Milles' Playing Angels

 

RESOURCES:

Voices heard in the program:

John A. Bower, Jr., FAIA is Emeritus Principal architect at BLT Architects.

Maria Wiberg is the Educational Director at the Millesgården in Stockholm, Sweden.

Segment Producer: Kara Oehler

A program of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association), Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an innovative and accessible outdoor sculpture audio program for Philadelphia’s preeminent collection of public art.

User calls Museum Without Walls Audio for Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture
Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

A “multi-platform” interactive audio experience – available for free by cell phone, mobile app, or on our website – Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO offers the unique histories that are not typically expressed on outdoor permanent signage.

Unlike audio tours that have a single authoritative guide or narrator, each speaker featured in Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an “authentic voice” – someone who is connected to the sculpture by knowledge, experience, or affiliation.

Over 150 unique voices are featured, including artists, educators, scientists, writers, curators, civic leaders, and historians.

LEARN MORE >>

 

This artwork is part of the Along Kelly Drive tour

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