Monument with Standing Beast

Monument with Standing Beast

Fiberglass, 29 feet. Commissioned by the Illinois Capital Development Board,given by the Leonard J. Horwich Family Foundation in memory of Leonard J.Horwich, with additional funding by the Graham Foundation for AdvancedStudies in the Fine Arts and by an anonymous donor. James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph Street.


Chicago, for whom French artist Jean Dubuffet felt a special affection, can boast of one of the three monumental sculpture commissions the artist did in this country. When he expressed his revolutionary anti-cultural beliefs in a lecture here in 1951 he won enthusiastic support from the city whose "courage without concession" seemed to match his own temperament. Dubuffet's words gave impetus to the "primitive" direction taking shape in Chicago art and won for him some of his earliest support.

Monument (Monument a la Bete Debour) is formed of four elements that are interrelated and suggest a standing animal, free portal and architectural component. Creating an environment that invites the viewer to enter "Monument" echoes the dramatically open plan of the James R. Thompson Center on whose plaza it stands. Dubuffet used his 1960 painting cycle called Hourioupe, a word he invented because he liked its sound, as a basis for this large-scale sculpture. He described his sculpture as "drawing which extends into space" and hoped it would reach the man in the street.

"Monument" was conceived in 1969 as part of the series of figural and landscape designs he made while thinking about his earliest monumental commission, for the Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York. From the very beginning of his career when he turned his back on the post-war Parisian art scene, he invented his own often brutal urban realm utilizing street language, graffiti and caricature. Dubuffet's influence continues to be seen in the work of neo-expressionist artists.

The seventeen-story James R. Thompson Center designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn was completed in 1985 and contains shops, restaurants and overfifty state agencies. An expansive skylit glass rotunda makes it easy to view thenineteen specially commissioned artworks funded by the State of Illinois Art-in-Architecture Program. There are major works by Illinois sculptors Don Baum, John Henry, Richard Hunt, Jerry Peart, Barry Tinsley, ceramist Ruth Duckworth and fiber-artist Claire Zeisler. Many other pieces by contemporary Illinois artists are installed throughout the building and exhibited at a special gallery devoted primarily to work by state residents.