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Stanford Report, August 6, 2003

Unwrapping a peel

BY John Sanford

The sculpture of a giant banana peel -- nearly 14 feet tall by 9 feet wide -- was craned Thursday morning over the Cantor Center for Visual Arts and set down in the building's ground-floor courtyard.

The installation of Floating Peel (2002), by husband-and-wife artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, attracted a half-dozen newspaper reporters and photographers, who tried out banana-peel jokes while they waited for a work crew to remove the sculpture from its crate. "I hope they don't slip up," "it has a lot of appeal" and "let's split" were among the more memorable.

Hilarie Faberman, the Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, oversaw the project. She said Floating Peel is typical of the couple's work in that it is a monumental yet whimsical representation of an ordinary object, with just a hint of eroticism. (Other outsized sculptures by the pop-artist duo include Garden Hose [1983] in Stühlinger Park, Germany, and a bow and arrow -- Cupid's Span [2002] -- that protrudes from the ground in San Francisco's Rincon Park.)

Walking around the courtyard, Faberman examined the giant peel from different angles and told the movers how to position it. "I couldn't tell it was going to be so much like a dancing figure," she said.

Constructed of fiber-reinforced plastic painted with polyester gel-coat, the work is on loan to Stanford for two years from the Alturas Foundation.


Workers with Atthowe Fine Arts Services of Oakland on July 31 unwrapped and secured Floating Peel in the Cantor Center’s ground-floor courtyard. Photo: L.A. Cicero