Dispatch from the Archives: “The Councilman Doesn’t Like it”

Okay, I couldn’t resist! Today, while researching a query on sculptor Bernard “Tony” Rosenthal, I ran across this photo in our collection. When I showed it to one of our volunteers, Rita Faudman, she said (while laughing), “what can you do with THIS?” And my immediate reply was, “post it on the blog!”

©Wide World Photos.  Councilman Harold Harby leaves no doubt about his opinion.  Courtesy Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

©Wide World Photos. Councilman Harold Harby leaves no doubt about his opinion. Courtesy Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

Rosenthal’s sculpture “The Family Group” was commissioned in 1952 by the architectural firm of Welton Becket & Company for the exterior of the Los Angeles Police Facilities Building, now known as the Parker Center. The architects chose the site for the sculpture, located at the Los Angeles Street entrance, but left the design up to Rosenthal. Rosenthal, at the suggestion of a police department employee, created a sculpture depicting a policeman standing watch over a family. He intentionally left the faces simple and “raceless” in order to represent all races and creeds. The controversial work was particularly despised by councilman Harold Harby who called it a “futuristic nightmare.” Though there was much opposition to the modernist representation, proponents included art critics, authors, scholars and museum directors and was approved by both the Municipal Art Commission and the Board of Public Works. The bronze sculpture was installed in 1955.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

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