MIA launches campaign to add “monumental” sculpture

The addition of Igor Mitoraj’s “Eros” is planned for the museum’s 100th-anniversary year

Installed temporarily outside the MIA's 3rd Avenue entrance, 2-ton "Eros" moves in July to the corner of 24th & 3rd. Credit: Dylan Thomas

WHITTIER — The Minneapolis Institute of Arts aims to raise over $1 million to add a new outdoor sculpture by the Polish-born sculptor Igor Mitoraj to its permanent collection.

A bronze weighing approximately 2 tons, “Eros” arrived in a crate Monday from the late artist’s studio in Carrara, Italy, and was temporarily placed on a wooden platform outside the museum’s 3rd Avenue entrance. In a little over a month the museum plans to move “Eros” to what’s hoped will be its permanent location at the corner of 24th Street and 3rd Avenue, on the northeast edge of the museum’s campus.

Jennifer Olivarez, curator of decorative arts and design, said the museum wanted to add a “monumental” outdoor piece to mark the museum’s 100th birthday year in 2015. “Eros,” a piece by a contemporary artist that evokes classical themes, seemed a perfect choice for a museum with an encyclopedic collection spanning centuries, Olivarez said.

Eros is the Greek god of love — a predecessor and counterpart to the plump infant Cupid of Roman mythology — and is sometimes depicted wearing a blindfold, as he is in Mitoraj’s sculpture. In a post-modern twist on classical sculpture, Mitoraj’s “Eros” appears cracked, as if it had just shattered or had maybe been broken and pieced back together.

“The fact that this is he is cracked shows the complexity of love, that it can be devastating as well as uplifting,” Olivarez said.

Mitoraj, who was born in Poland but lived in France and later worked out of a studio in Italy, died in October. His work is not as well known in the United States as it is in Europe, where his sculptures have appeared in the Venice Biennale and are installed in England’s Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, among other locations.

The museum has already raised about $300,000 for the sculpture and aims to wrap up the fundraising campaign by early fall, Julianne Amendola, the museum’s director of development, said.

Amendola said the campaign would be a focus of the museum’s June gala. The museum will also accept donations in person or online.

For more information, go to artsmia.org/eros.