Goethe Statue and Meis
I am not a big fan of photographs that feature statues, particularly of historical figures in representational style. Yet, I have always enjoyed the superhuman statue honoring the German philosopher and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) that sits at the north end of Lincoln Park, with two Mies van der Rohe apartments serving as a backdrop. The east tower of the Commonwealth Promenade Apartments (lefthand side of the photograph) was completed in 1956. It is 28-stories tall, with expansive views of Lincoln Park and the Chicago skyline.
As for the Goethe statue, it was dedicated on June 13, 1914, just a month before the outbreak of World War I. It came about when a committee of German-Americans raised funds to honor Goethe. Sculptor Herman Hahn, a professor from Munich, won the competition, which apparently was conducted under the auspices of the Art Institute of Chicago. The bronze sculpture is 25-feet high, and is meant to resemble a Greek god--possibly Zeus. In back of the statue is a low-rise wall, with a stone portrait of Goethe.
The right-foot of the statute is not the original. It was recast after a lightening strike in 1951.
About four blocks south of the Goethe statue is a more modern work that most people probably don't notice. It could be a variation of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which if the reference were intended, would complement the Goethe statue given that both involve references to the the ancient Greeks. Whether artist and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly intended the reference is unknown. The 40-foot tall sculpture's formal title is Curve XXII, but it is subtitled "I Will," which is a reference to the spirit of the people of Chicago, most likely with an eye to Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It is comprised of two stainless steel panels of varying width, with a hollow center.
Donald Trump may not like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), but the Friends of the Park certainly do because the NEA partially funded the $100,000 cost. According to the Chicago Public Art website, Kelly wanted a statue that joggers, bikers, and other passersby could enjoy without breaking their pace. The statue was dedicated in 1981, and re-fabricated in 2002. Given all the scuff marks and scratches, it probably should undergo a second re-fabrication.
Kelly is no stranger to the City of Chicago. He collaborated with architect Renzo Piano in creating the only site-specific piece of artwork for the Art Institute's Modern Wing, which is fitting because the Art Institute holds an extensive collection of Kelly's work. Kelly died in 2015 at the age of 92.