Olympic Sculpture Park - Father And Son

Visiting the Park
Admission: Free
Park Hours: Oct-Apr: 7 am - 6 pm
May-Sep: 7 am - 9 pm

The most talked about piece of Seattle public art is Father and Son. Wading through years of controversy due to the naked forms that make up this Louise Bourgeois sculpture, Father and Son was at one time the main talking point when it came to Seattle public art, a scene that is often noteworthy only in its blandness.

Though many of Bourgeoi's works reflect the relationship between father and son (notable due to the early death of Bourgeoi's husband, leaving her to raise three boys on her own), few have the emotional complexity of this piece. Like all of the pieces in the Olympic Sculpture Park, Father and Son gains its power from minimalism and subtlety. The fountain is two pieces above an oval basin, a father and son reaching out towards each other, separated. The water spouts from the fountain such that it will always obscure one of the forms - when a mound of water rains above the father, the son is left dry, standing as if above the downpour. Each hour, the sprinklers shift, and then the effect is the opposite, a dry father and a son covered, still unable to make contact.

Meant to convey the estrangement and restrained vulnerability between fathers and sons, the piece came under fire when it was revealed that each form would be nude. Though meant to show emotional nakedness, the Louise Bourgeois sculpture was taken far more literally by some, and left to mire in the seemingly endless debate on the perception of art.

Image: M.V. Jantzen (flickr)

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