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Crouching Spider, Imminent Departure

April 20, 2009

The two-and-a-half-ton bronze spider that has greeted tourists and locals as they stroll along San Francisco's picturesque waterfront for the past 17 months is about to scuttle away.

The sculpture, Crouching Spider, by the iconic French artist Louise Bourgeois, has been on loan to the city since November 2007 and has enjoyed pride of place at the Embarcadero's Entry Plaza at Pier 14.

The sculpture was originally cast in 2003 from the artist's famous Spider series and was made specifically for display in San Francisco. Initially lent for eight months by the artist, courtesy of Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco and Cheim & Read, New York, the sculpture's stay was extended due to popular support. On Friday, April 24, Crouching Spider will be disassembled into ten pieces and transported to a private collection in Houston, Texas. The removal process will begin at 9 am on Friday, April 24. The arachnid's separated eight legs and torso will then be and loaded into a truck bound for Houston, Texas. The entire process is expected to take around six hours.

Crouching Spider has been a lurid addition to San Francisco's waterfront. In as much as it's huge, comically menacing and has no business, as an insect of the land, being displayed by the sea, the sculpture has jubilantly captured the eccentric, oddball spirit of this city. I will miss it.

I have to commend San Francisco for bringing such eye-catching work to the Embarcadero. Waterfront art is often rather kitsch and dull, with cities favoring twee sculptures of fishermen and sea shells over anything that might make a passerby out for a Sunday stroll pause for thought. San Francisco's waterfront, however, has been and continues to be home to several startling works of art. These include the massive Burning Man installation Passage by Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito depicting two huge human figures made out of strips of rusty metal, the statue of Gandhi at the Ferry Building and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Cupid's Arrow.

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