In The East, Brother Benjamin Franklin
Grand Museum and Library, Philadelphia, PA
Bronze, Stainless Steel, Marble
9’ x 17’
Research for this installation project began with the relationship between Artist Jean Antoine Houdon (1741–1828) and Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Houdon’s bust of Franklin was the first of his canonical portraits of leading figures in American history which is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Artists over the years have referred to this sculpture not only as iconic but as the true likeness of Benjamin Franklin. West patterned the portrait of Franklin in In The East, Brother Ben Franklin, after this Houdon bust. Not only recognizing Franklin but honoring Houdon and their friendship by adding the date they met on the collar of the 17′ Bronze. Also during intensive research, artist West created a symbolic ‘nine line’ graphic on the sculpture representative of The Muses or Nine Sisters, the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts in Greek mythology. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in these ancient cultures.