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Unconditional surrender (sculpture)

The meaning of «unconditional surrender (sculpture)»

Unconditional Surrender is a series of computer-generated sculptures by Seward Johnson that resemble a 1945 photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, V–J day in Times Square, but is said by Johnson to be based on a similar, less well known, photograph by Victor Jorgensen that is in the public domain. The first in the series was installed temporarily in Sarasota, Florida, then was moved to San Diego, California and New York City. Others in the series have been installed in Hamilton, New Jersey; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Normandy, France. Johnson later identified the sculpture at exhibitions as "Embracing Peace" for the double entendre.[1][2][3]

Seward Johnson built a life-size bronze precursor to the huge statues of Unconditional Surrender using a computer, a technology that would be used to manufacture the entire series. A 25-foot (7.6 m)-tall styrofoam version of the statue was part of a temporary exhibition in Sarasota, Florida in 2005, at its bay front.[4]

Johnson proceeded with the manufacture of aluminum versions of the 25-feet-tall statue, marketing them through a foundation he had created. He offered copies ranging from $542,500 for styrofoam (plastic), $980,000 for aluminum, and $1,140,000 for bronze.[4] Johnson established the Sculpture Foundation to disseminate his work.[citation needed]

After being exhibited in Florida, the plastic copy of the statue was moved to San Diego, California, on a flatbed truck.[5] The second place to exhibit Unconditional Surrender was in Tuna Harbor Park (formerly G Street Mole Park) where the Port of San Diego installed one temporarily in 2007.[6][7] The statue, made of a foam core with a urethane outer layer, was scheduled to be on loan through August 2010; however, it remained installed until May 2012, when it was dismantled and shipped to New Jersey for restoration.[8]

Placement of the statue was criticized by multiple people. Robert L. Pincus, art critic of The San Diego Union Tribune, said that according to "theme-park logic" the statue suited the site, in front of the Midway Aircraft Museum, and that it pleased couples who mimicked the pose, but that it was kitsch and "The figures look like something from a cheap souvenir factory, blown up beyond any reason."[6] Other critics stated that the statue "was not artistically or [a]esthetically pleasing."[5][9]

Interest in a revisit to Sarasota in 2009 was cultivated by a director of a bay-front biannual show and an aluminum copy was placed at the bay-front, again temporarily. An "88-year-old donor, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II" offered to pay half a million dollars for it against an initial asking price of $680,000.[10]

While some members of the community supported the statue, others felt the statue was not good enough to be displayed on the bay front. The chairwoman of the public art committee at the time said that "it doesn't even qualify as kitsch...It is like a giant cartoon image drafted by a computer emulating a famous photograph. It's not the creation of an artist. It's an artist copying a famous image."[10] The statue was immediately controversial, with some people calling for its removal[11] for various reasons, including the fact that it may constitute copyright infringement,[12] as well as concern about its content representing a sexual assault.

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