A new public art piece by renowned conceptual art master Joseph Kosuth is getting flicked on officially for the first time tonight, on the previously unsightly Polk Street facade of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
Known for his explorations of language as it relates to meaning and art, Kosuth has created a permanent neon installation titled W.F.T. (San Francisco), displaying the words "civic" and "auditorium" and mapping out the origins of the two words in illuminated text.
Tonight's dedication ceremony, which presumably will be attended by the artist, takes place at 6 p.m.
As KQED explains, the $1.2 million public artwork was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission, using money from the Public Art Trust that developers are made to pay into in San Francisco if and when they do not include public art on site at their developments.
Kosuth, who came of age as artist in New York in the 1960s, is perhaps most famous for this 1965 piece that is now part of the Museum of Modern Art's collection. Titled One and Three Chairs, the piece shows an actual chair sitting between a photograph of that same chair, and a printed dictionary definition of a chair. As KQED's Sarah Hotchkiss writes, "Trust me, when you’re a 20-year-old art student (the same age Kosuth was when he put this piece together), One and Three Chairs blows your mind."
These days, Kosuth has been creating a number of pieces he calls "word family trees," (WFT) which is where the that piece of the title of this piece comes from, W.F.T. (San Francisco).
As the Arts Commission tells us, this is Kosuth’s first permanent public artwork on an historic building in the United States.
The Commission further explains:
When conceiving of W.F.T (San Francisco), the artist considered the role the Auditorium has played in San Francisco history, from its inauguration in 1915 as part of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition to hosting psychedelic rock concerts in the 1960s to the present. The etymological origins of the words provide meaningful and coincidental associations with recent landmark public policy such as the legalization of gay marriage.
The piece was paid for by Emerald Fund, who specified to the Commission that it wanted a public art piece that would enhance the views of the residents of its recent residential project on Polk Street, The Civic., across the street from Bill Graham
Here's one more angle below.