Three Fires: “Spreading Fires” – “Leaping Fires” – “Smoldering Fires” by Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) found on Fulton in front of the Chukchansi Park Entrance
These three pieces are among the most interesting on the mall, and at one time, perhaps the most controversial. An abstract interpretation of the dynamism of fire, the pieces met with considerable community discussion when the artist installed them in 1966. The three sculptures are typical of much of Falkenstein’s public works of the mid 1960’s that consist of wire and metal tubing.
Claire Falkenstein was born in Coos Bay, Oregon. She was chosen “Woman of the Year for Art” by the Los Angeles Times in 1969. She taught at San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College, and UCLA. She was a student of the Russian-born modernist sculptor Alexander Archipenko, and was also influenced by Bauhaus artists Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Gyorgy Kepes. Critics consider her commissioned works for St. Basils Church in Los Angeles to be her most important work. In 1997 she was named as the “Distinguished Woman Artist,” by the Fresno Art Museum’s Council of 100.
Falkenstein’s work has been exhibited at the Louvre, Paris; Rodin Museum, Paris; The Tate Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum in New York; Museum of Modern Art in New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as many other museums nationally and internationally.