Miami: Dropped Bowl

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels, 1982
Miami-Dade Open Space Park, Miami

Steel, reinforced concrete, fiber reinforced plastic; painted with polyurethane enamel; stainless steel
Seventeen elements (eight bowl fragments, four peels, five orange sections), in an area approximately 16 ft. 9 in. x 91 ft. x 105 ft. (5.1 x 27.7 x 32 m)

Commissioned September 1984 by Metro Dade Art in Public Places Trust under Dade County’s 1.5 Percent for Fine Art ordinance
Installed September 1989
Inaugurated March 30, 1990

“This monumental outdoor sculpture represents an imaginary moment in time when a huge bowl of orange slices and peels drops to the ground and shatters. The artwork includes eight bowl fragments in cast concrete with an overall weight of 124,000 lbs., four peels in steel plate with painted surfaces, and five orange sections executed in reinforced cast resin. Oldenburg and Bruggen are world renowned for creating large-scale, site-specific works in urban settings.” Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places

The following is from

Statement by the Artists

Although we had included water as an element in our Gartenschlauch (Garden Hose), a sculpture for Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, in 1982, we had not yet attempted a full fountain. The opportunity came with a commission from the Metro-Dade County Art in Public Places program in September 1984. Water seemed an especially appropriate subject for the city of Miami, to which we would add one of our favorite fruit subjects, the orange, also associated with the state of Florida.

The site was a wide area surrounded by an eclectic mix of architecture and highways. A centralized fountain in a circular shape surrounded by flagpoles, as projected in the landscape designer’s plans, did not seem to respond to the location. Coosje proposed instead an anti-hierarchical approach, consisting of forms scattered over the plaza. In reference to the conventional shape of a fountain, ours would be round, but resembling a broken plate, with the oranges deconstructed into slices and expressively cut peels. We thought that the jagged fragments would be more interesting if they came from a bowl, coincidentally a nod to a local institution, the football stadium known as the Orange Bowl. Trying out the idea on a model, Coosje dispersed the parts with abandon to introduce chance and irregularity into the orderly grid of the plaza. Cesar Trasobares, director of the Art in Public Places program, likened the effect to a piñata, which spills treasures in all directions when it is smashed. The flying slices, peels, and fragments of the bowl are caught as if in stop-motion, bouncing off the surfaces of the plaza. Pools in the shape of spilled liquid, large and small, were cut into the pavement beneath the sculptural pieces. Jets of water emerge from the pools, programmed at irregular heights and surprising intervals in repeated reenactments of the breaking bowl’s impact.

At the time of its inauguration the Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels could be seen to represent a city in the making, deriving its particular order out of the apparent disorder accompanying Miami’s expansion.

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