The Poet (1954)

by José de Creeft (1884 - 1982)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
North Terrace of Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial (north of Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive)
1954

  • Title

    The Poet

  • Artist

    José de Creeft (1884 - 1982)

  • Year

    1954; installed 1959

  • Medium

    Granite, on granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 8’6″, width 2'6 1/2", depth 2'6" (base height 3’10”, width 3', depth 3')

Commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art), bequest of Ellen Phillips Samuel

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • Commissioned for the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial

  • This sculpture represents the writer who helps to shape the imagination of the U.S.

  • The Poet was artist José de Creeft’s first major public commission in the U.S.

  • de Creeft also created a bronze of Alice in Wonderland for New York’s Central Park

The writer who helps to shape the imagination of the country is represented in José de Creeft’s sculpture of a draped poet clutching his writings to his breast. The Poet was commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) and installed at the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial. Even before emigrating to America from Spain in the late 1920s, de Creeft had established a substantial reputation as a carver of wood and stone.  This was his first major public commission in the United States; a few years later, he created a bronze Alice in Wonderland for New York’s Central Park.

A view of the North Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial on Kelly Drive
The North Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial. Photo Caitlin Martin © 2010 for the Association for Public Art.

The North Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial

The development of the North Terrace inaugurated the final stage of the Samuel Memorial. Here the intention was to express not historical periods or movements but rather the “inner energies” that shaped the nation. Two major bronze groups were to represent “social consciousness” and “constructive enterprise,” and the commissions were offered to Jacob Epstein and Jacque Lipchitz. As Epstein and Lipchitz progressed, it became apparent that their two massive monuments would not fit comfortably in the same terrace. Thus, Epstein’s Social Consciousness was installed at the west entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Lipchitz’s The Spirit of Enterprise served as the centerpiece of the North Terrace until, in 1986, it was moved to the Central Terrace.

Sculptures in the North Terrace:

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

 

RESOURCES:

Museum Without Walls logo: a program of the Association for Public Art

 

Voices heard in the program:

Penny Balkin Bach is Executive Director of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) and the author of many books and articles about Philadelphia’s public art.

Kathleen A. Foster is Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Michael Taylor was Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the author of Jacques Lipchitz and Philadelphia.

Segment Producer: Amanda Aronczyk and Ave Carrillo

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, audio download, or on the web – 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.

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