3 Statues, building on 580 California Street

greenspun.com : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Does anybody know the meaning to the 3 statues on the top of the building at 580 California Street?

-- Brian Chan (briMChan@hotmail.com), July 15, 2002


That was the architect, the famous Philip Johnson, having fun by making statues of statues. I recall from when the building was erected that they had no significance and, in fact, didn't really resemble anybody or anything.

-- Al Magary (al@magary.com), July 15, 2002.

Philip Johnson is quite a controversial character by some accounts. As a much younger man he was associated with American and European fascist movements. Ironically, high rise buildings aren't just unpopular with fire department personnel, but with many fascists as well. Years ago I worked at 580 and noticed, that although the statures attracted curious strangers in daily, how the building staff members were just as perplexed. It's an unsettling kind of human interaction, and many other elitist architects elsewhere have a reputation for creating buildings with aspects that are more artistic than practical. After reading a biographical sketch on Johnson to size him up, and seeing how creepy the statues are from below, my best estimate is that it's a symbolic social statement in line with Oswald Spengler's 1926 book about 'The Decline of the West." Many fascists, including Hitler's National Socialists, drew some of their inspiration from Spengler. And I'll believe that until I hear somethi

-- Hamilton Barrett (Mimereader@aol.com), August 02, 2002.

Grumble grumble. I still miss the old Fireman’s Fund building. Grumble. This is from a Chronicle article about window washers: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi? file=/chronicle/archive/1999/08/13/BU53607.DTL “Price is gazing out over the city as an eerie sight emerges across the way, on the rooftop of 580 California. Ghostly, faceless figures surround the building's crown, spooky women in hooded white robes. From street level, the 12-foot-tall statues are all but unseen. They're the creation of New York artist Muriel Castanis, who was specially commissioned to create the figures for the 23-story building. She has described her work as ‘corporate goddesses.’''

-- Rosa (rosadebon@yahoo.com), August 02, 2002.

Furrther searches show three artists involved (warning, Chinese, http:// www.juming.org.tw/quarterly/2k2a/2k01-2-2.htm).

Quote (and a picture) Philip Johnson & John Burgee 580 California, and Muriel Castanis, Figures, San Francisco, 1984

I think this means the building is by Johnson and Burgee, statues by Castanis...

-- Winton Davies (wdavies@acm.org), July 08, 2004.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ