Art@Site Abbott Pattison Chicago Totem

Abbott Pattison


Chicago Totem

Randolph Street
In making his Chicago Totem, sculptor Abbott Pattison wanted to represent his native city with a totem that like Chicago is"soaring, living, writhing with animal force".
His soaring 15-foor bronze was commissioned for its frequently wind swept site by the Jupiter Corporation, developers of the Outer Drive East Apartments.
“I always thought that I’d be a sculptor. Even at 10 I was decided. At first I was absorbed by architecture. But when I went to the Chicago Art Institute and later to Yale University, where there was an outstanding art department, I was irrevocably on the way to becoming a sculptor.”
Abbott Pattison was an important sculptor for Modern art both globally and locally in Chicago. Born in Chicago in 1916, Pattison’s youth helped foster his lifelong artistic pursuits. He attended the Francis W. Parker School in Lincoln Park, an apparent haven for future artists, with such notable alumni as Pulitzer prize-winning David Mamet and two-time Academy award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler.
His collegiate education was no less conducive to success. Pattison attended the Yale School of Fine Arts where he was granted a travelling fellowship in 1939. He spent a year in China and Japan working and studying to hone his craft. Surprisingly little is known about his time spent in China and Japan, but the outbreak of World War II during his time there certainly impacted his stay. China and Japan had already been at war for over a year, although hostility between Japan and the United States would not begin for another year or two. What is known, however, is that sculpture in China and Japan around this time was characterized by a rejection of French figurative sculpture and a turn toward a more modern, avant-garde forms, subject matter, and materials. This transitional period presented Pattison with an interesting climate to develop his craft, and the influence of this time is definitely apparent in his work