Voyage of Ulysses (c. 1977)

by David von Schlegell 1920-1992

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

    Voyage of Ulysses

  • Artist

    David von Schlegell 1920-1992

  • Year

    1977

  • Location

    Plaza of James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse and William J. Green, Jr., Federal Building, 6th Street between Market and Arch Streets

  • Medium

    Stainless steel with hydraulics, in fountain base

  • Dimensions

    Heigh 16'; width 28'4"

  • Themes

    Water and Fountains

Commissioned as part of the Art in Architecture Program of the General Services Administration

At A Glance

  • Commissioned as part of the Art in Architecture Program of the General Services Administration

  • Dedicated at the same time as the nearby murals by Charles Searles and Al Held

     

  • Resembles a sail and features diagonal lines to counter the verticality of the nearby architecture

  • Von Schlegell worked as an aviation engineer and in an architectural firm before becoming an artist

In classical mythology, Ulysses wanders in the Mediterranean for 10 years before reaching his home. Some of the magic of the Ulysses tale is captured in David von Schlegell’s fountain sculpture at the Federal courthouse and office complex. Commissioned as part of the Art in Architecture Program of the General Services Administration, Voyage to Ulysses was dedicated at the same time as the murals by Charles Searles (Celebration) and Al Held.

Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art

Von Schlegell worked as an aviation engineer and in an architectural firm before turning to painting and sculpture. For the plaza on 6th Street, he decided not to compete with the scale of the government buildings. Instead, he worked on a more human scale, and his design features diagonal lines to counter the verticality of the architecture. In basic shape Voyage of Ulysses resembles a sail, but its appearance varies from difference perspectives. Hydraulic engineers helped the artist produce dramatic effects with the water that tumbles against and through the sculpture.

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

 

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