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Collections> Browse > Model for the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge

studio view
Courtesy Walker Art Center
studio view Image Rights
Image Rights
studio view
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Copyright retained by the artist


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Model for the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge
Siah Armajani
overall 12 × 74 × 4 inches
wood, paint
On view at the Walker Art Center, CARGILL

Object Details

Sculpture (Models)
Accession Number
Physical Description
model for bridge
Credit Line
Acquired in connection with the construction of the Sculpture Garden, 1986

artwork entry Siah Armajani, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1998

Twin Cities-based artist Siah Armajani is known for his pioneering public works, which have helped to redefine the social function of art both in this country and abroad. More than simply art for public spaces, Armajani’s bridges, plazas, and other public art pieces—at once utilitarian and symbolic—are intended to reflect the ideals of a democratic society and to foster discourse and learning in the communities they inhabit.

Armajani explored the bridge as a metaphor for passage in a number of his early conceptual models and works. In 1970, for example, for the exhibition 9 Artists/9 Spaces, he fashioned an 85-foot-long, rough-timbered wooden bridge. Rising quite surprisingly to a gabled peak at its middle, it sheltered a lone pine tree planted beneath. The idea of passage became decidedly more functional with Armajani’s full-scale commission for the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, which allows pedestrians to cross the sixteen lanes of streets and highway that had severed the Garden from neighboring Loring Park for many years. The artist’s design incorporates the three basic types of bridge structure: beam (across its fir-planked, horizontal span), arch (for the eastern portion), and suspension (for the western portion). To underscore the sense of transition from one part to the next, Armajani painted each half a different, atmospheric shade: pale blue for the upward arching portion and yellow, recreated from the hue that Thomas Jefferson used at his home, Monticello, for the inverted arch. Affixed to the upper lintel of the span and running in each direction across the bridge are the words of a poem—a meditation on movement, place, order, and crossing—which Armajani commissioned specially from the renowned American poet John Ashbery.

Jenkins, Janet, ed. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1998, no. 42.

© 1998 Walker Art Center