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Blake Pontchartrain: Aluminum Attitudes and the art of Arthur Silverman

What are those geometric sculptures at the University of New Orleans?


Hey Blake,

There are some stainless steel-looking geometric-shaped sculptures in the neutral ground in front of the University of New Orleans on Elysian Fields. Who made these artworks and what do they denote?

Dear reader,

  Those metal sculptures are proof there's no time better than the present to pursue your dream. For Dr. Arthur Silverman, the dream was creating art, including the sculptures on Elysian Fields Avenue. He began pursuing his passion in the 1970s after three decades as a physician.

  Born in New York City in 1923, Silverman came to New Orleans to study medicine at Tulane Uni-versity. He was a urologist in private practice for more than 30 years. "One day a physician friend of mine confided that he didn't have much time to live and said, 'Art, if there's anything you want to do in this world, do it now.' He made me think," Silverman told Laura Claverie for a 2009 story in New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles. Silverman soon left his career in medicine and pursued art as a vocation.

  He went on to create more than 400 metal sculptures. Some are just inches tall and one, in front of the Energy Centre on Poydras Street, is 60 feet tall. Silverman says his artwork is based on the tetrahedron, a polyhedron with four triangular faces. He is retired, but you can find his work on the Tulane and Loyola campuses as well as at Temple Sinai.

  His outdoor sculpture in the 6500 block of Elysian Fields is called Aluminum Attitudes. It was commissioned in 1993 by the Arts Council of New Orleans. The sculpture consists of six identical aluminum sculptures weighing 400 pounds each, arranged in different poses on the neutral ground.

  "The neutral ground is a vast, open space," Silverman told The Times-Picayune. "My hope was that viewers would treat it as a game, picking up the different elements and putting them in different positions. I wanted something human-scaled that revealed different views as you walked the space."

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