At New York’s Rockefeller Center, right across the street from Radio City Music Hall and hovering above a subway entrance, an iconic steel sculpture, powder-coated bright cobalt blue, stood for 42 years.
A few weeks ago, the 5-ton “Cubed Curve” arrived at Ursinus College, about 30 miles outside Philadelphia.
“It left Sixth Avenue in New York City, and now it’s in, of all places, Main Street in Collegeville, Pennsylvania,” said Charles Stainback, director of the college’s Berman Museum of Art. “It couldn’t be more different … if it was in the middle of a cornfield someplace. We do have those close by, but, luckily, it’s here and not in a cornfield.”
Ursinus is a relatively small college with about 1,400 students, and relatively old at 150 years; the stone-and-mortar architecture of its buildings is a testament to its age.
On the other hand, its outdoor sculpture collection is large and contemporary, with 75 pieces of mostly modernist and post-modernist art. Stainback claims to have the largest collection of work in North America by the British sculptor Lynn Chadwick – a favorite of museum founder Philip Berman.
In 1972, the Rockefeller Group commissioned artist William Crovello to install “Cubed Curve” on top of a Time-Life plinth. It stayed there until two years ago when the building underwent renovations and the group had to move it.
Someone knew someone who knew someone. Stainback said a parent of a Ursinus sophomore was involved with the Rockefeller Group and mentioned the college’s sculpture collection. Phone calls were made, a deal was struck.
“It’s donated. It is a gift from the Rockefeller Group,” said Stainback. “They were very, very generous in making sure it got here in perfect condition, including having it repainted.”
Stainback gave “Cubed Curve” pride of place, on a gravel bed a few steps from the main campus entrance, plainly visible to passers-by on Main Street. He hopes it sends a message to other possible donors, that Ursinus is not a stodgy place for art.
“It’s like an old man being hip,” he said.