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Mark di Suvero's red steel 'Orion' sculpture to be reinstalled Tuesday at U-M

Artist to speak at event Wednesday in Ann Arbor

Mark di Suvero's "Orion" sculpture lit up at night at UMMA (Credit: University of Michigan)
Mark di Suvero's "Orion" sculpture lit up at night at UMMA (Credit: University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – If you've driven or walked by the University of Michigan Museum of Art lately and thought something's missing, you'd be right.

Mark di Suvero's distinctive, 53-foot-high sculpture "Orion" has been on a yearlong hiatus and will be reinstalled Tuesday. The iconic work of public art is a 21,220-pound steel structure that has become an Ann Arbor landmark.

Following its installation, di Suvero will be visiting U-M to hold a public conversation with UMMA Director Christina Olsen at 5 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the importance of public art on university campuses.

Credit: Mark di Suvero
Credit: Mark di Suvero

"Mark di Suvero is one of last living abstract expressionist artists and arguably the most important 20th-century American sculptor of outdoor, public art," Olsen said in a statement. "An opportunity to hear from him is a rare occurrence, especially with one so steeped in the concerns of our present social, political and environmental debates.

"This is a moment for the community to come to together to hear about and discuss what the impact of a collection like U-M's can have on the future of the university and the world."

Olsen says di Suvero's visit is part of an effort to reimagine the school's public art program.

U-M President Mark Schlissel will be welcoming di Suvero at the event April 24, and di Suvero will also receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts on May 4 at Spring Commencement at Michigan Stadium.

Before "Orion" (2006) arrived at UMMA in 2008 as a long-term loan, it was on display at Millennium Park in Chicago. It was removed in April 2018 ahead of stormwater repairs on the grounds of the museum and has spent the last year in di Suvero's studio in New York, where it received a fresh coat of its distinctive, orange-red paint.

A young girl sits on di Suvero's "Shang" sculpture at UMMA (Credit: University of Michigan)
A young girl sits on di Suvero's "Shang" sculpture at UMMA (Credit: University of Michigan)

"Orion" is one of two of the artist's large, steel sculptures at UMMA. Kinetic sculpture "Shang" (1984-85) is an interactive piece that passersby can use as a swing.

Di Suvero was born in Shanghai in 1933 and immigrated to the United States in 1941. He received his B.A. in philosophy from U-C Berkeley. In his career, he has received a National Medal of Arts and a Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center.

To learn more about di Suvero's work, visit his website.

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