Venus de Milo
Venus de Milo
When the former J. C. Penney building was acquired by the Tishman Speyer Trammell Crow Limited Partnership in 1988, the architectural firm of Skidmore Owings & Merrill was hired to offer advice about renovating the structure and its sunken plaza on the west blockfront along the Avenue of the Americas between West 52d and 53d Streets. Sculpture for a street-level plaza was decided upon and Jerry I. Speyer, who is both president of Tishman Speyer Properties and a member of the board of trustees of the nearby Museum of Modern Art, eventually commissioned works by Jim Dine.
Mr. Dine, a resident of New York and London who is widely viewed as having been one of the first Pop artists, reverted to an old theme, a variation on the Venus de Milo that he first hit upon in the 70's. What he produced was three bronze figures that are 14, 18 and 23 feet high and that resemble the famous armless goddess, minus her head. The statues, which Mr. Dine has named ''Looking Toward the Avenue,'' were installed last last year. They instantly became an imposing presence, and the reviews have been mixed.
Workers in the building at 1301 Avenue of the Americas say people walk in off the street almost daily to complain that they find the statues objectionable. However, Mr. Speyer described the reception of many New Yorkers to the statues as ''terrific'' and ''amazing,'' adding that he's received many calls from people approving of them. As to cost, Mr. Speyer would say only that ''they were expensive, but we think they are worth it.''
The presence of the statues has hardly deterred leasing: Last week the accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand announced it would lease nine of the building's 45 floors and relocate 2,000 workers there.