With his dark eyes and wavy bronze hair, a monumental head of “Eros,” the Greek god of love, is destined to be a signature attraction at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where it was temporarily installed this week.
The museum is asking the public to help pay for the $1 million sculpture by Polish-born Igor Mitoraj in celebration of the museum’s 100th birthday this year.
It has already raised more than $300,000 and is hoping to raise the rest in contributions of any size — including pennies from kids. There will be donation boxes in the museum, a dedicated website, cellphone links and special events during a gala weekend June 26-28.
“We wanted something to commemorate our centennial,” said Julianne Amendola, the museum’s director of advancement. “We could have done a separate campaign, but this is really about getting the public involved in the art collection.”
The hollow bronze head is 12 feet long, 7 feet tall and weighs about 4,000 pounds.
Made in 1999 at the artist’s studio in the northern Italian city of Pietrasanta, the sculpture is a poetic evocation of the beauty, suffering and fragility of human life. In classical mythology, Eros was often depicted as a blindfolded boy to signal the way people fall headlong into the passion of love. In Mitoraj’s interpretation, Eros is older and the blindfold has fallen from his eyes, a hint that he has seen something of life’s inevitable tragedy, too.
“The bandages are the expression of my past in Poland, where even now there is still a great deal of suffering,” Mitoraj once said.
Trained in Poland and Paris, Mitoraj is known throughout Europe for heroic bronze and marble sculptures of fragmentary human figures, especially heads and torsos, whose crusty, broken surfaces suggest the ravages of time.
His work has been installed at the Venice Biennale, the British Museum, Boboli Garden in Florence and Tuileries in Paris, among other sites. In the United States, it can be found at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and Citygarden park in St. Louis.
Now temporarily situated on a plaza outside the museum’s 3rd Avenue entrance, “Eros” will be moved in late June to its permanent home on the museum’s front lawn at the corner of 24th Street and 3rd Avenue S.