SF is Struck by Love with Cupid’s Span

San Francisco is the prime location for a great art scene. Everywhere you go you’ll be able to spot a hidden masterpiece, whether it’s a handmade piece hanging from someone’s door or a mural on the side of a building. Yet, one artwork that isn’t hidden at all is Cupid’s Span by Claes Oldenburg, located in Embarcadero Park.

Crossing over the Bay Bridge, visitors will have a full view of the bow as if cupid had just shot the arrow. The installation faces the ocean but those who approach it from the street will find that the piece is too big to see completely. Another great view of the artwork is to climb the piece and slide down the bow!

The installation is made out of fiberglass, steel and painted with polyester gelcoat. Initially Oldenburg wanted to put the arrow backwards and have the tip facing up, but he realized it would feel more natural to have the arrow in the ground as if to appear that Cupid just shot an arrow. The arrow is now partially implanted into the ground and the bow slightly tilted.

Oldenburg is an American artist who is well-known for his large works of art installations.     Oldenburg works primarily with everyday objects such as food, animals to even hardware tools. He is considered to be the master at soft sculpture which is the art of replicating everyday objects. Aside from Cupid’s Span, Oldenburg has another installation in the city. Located in the sculpture garden at the De Young Museum is Oldenburg’s replica of an enlarged baby safety pin.

Oldenburg thought it would be a great installation project to create a bow and arrow since San Francisco has the reputation of being the homeport of Eros. Eros is the greek god of love which fits perfectly with the romantic ambience San Francisco offers. The project was completed in 2002 and installed in November of the same year.  Richard Leydier, author of “Rise and Fall: Oldenburg & Van Bruggen,” beautifully explains, “Love’s trade-mark weapon naturally evokes the city’s permissive and romantic reputation, while formally its taut curve resonates wonderfully with the bridge in the background.”
Just by looking at the piece you will fall in love with its grandeur. Oldenburg took an ordinary object and made it over one hundred times bigger than the actual size. Even though February is almost over, there is still time to find love!  Head down to Mission St. and Embarcadero, have a picnic, enjoy the day, and maybe you and random stranger will be shot by cupid’s arrow!

Last 5 posts by Norma Robles

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