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Tony Tasset's "Rainbow"

Posted By: Katie McMurran · 1/10/2013 8:40:00 PM

The rain seems to have cleared for now, but we don't need cloudy skies to see a magnificent rainbow.


A close-up view of "Rainbow" on the Sony Pictures Entertainment Lot
© 2012 Sony Pictures Entertainment


Artist Tony Tasset's Rainbow is a 94-foot tall, 8-foot-thick steel structure making a permanent arc over the lot of Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City. Sony paid for the $1.6 million installation, fulfilling its obligation to Culver City's public art program, which requires property developers to expend 1% of development project costs on an art element.

Public art curator Marc Pally was enlisted by Sony to help work out the details.

"They wanted it to be welcoming," Pally says. "They were conscious that the studio needed to be closed, due to the kinds of activities and equipment inside, so there's a wall around the studio as there is around all studios. It's something they wish wasn't the case. They wanted it to be accessible, to be welcoming, and to also be meaningful and to have an aspect of quality art about it: that it would also be respected within the fine art world."


A view of "Rainbow" outside of the Sony Pictures Entertainment gate


Pally handpicked several artists whose work he felt fit those objectives, and the winning candidate was Tony Tasset. Tasset teaches art at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. He works in a variety of styles and mediums - video, bronze, wax, and photography to name a few, along with sculpture. And he's no stranger to large-scale, eye-popping works. Did I mention eye-popping?


Tony Tasset's 2010 work "The Eye"
© Kavi Gupta Gallery


This is his 2010 work The Eye. It keeps watch over the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, MO.

I asked Tasset why such ambitious projects appeal to him:

"A simple way to have an effect is to make something really big," he said. "You make things for the outdoors and you're competing with architecture and nature, and scale is one way to make a dramatic statement. "


Artist Tony Tasset with "Rainbow"
© 2012 Sony Pictures Entertainment


Tasset says his initial inspiration for Rainbow came from celluloid. It turns out the Sony Lot is where "The Wizard of Oz" and many other classic films were made.

"From the very beginning I kind of geeked out on the history of this place and the films," he says. "Not just 'Wizard of Oz,' but 'Citizen Kane' and 'Gone with the Wind.' I was a nerdy kid, and I was really into movies. Right away I felt like I had to honor that history. So that started it, and this idea of putting something way up in the air that would peek over the fence of this film lot."

He tells me the project was two years in the making; the actual construction of the piece was executed by LA-based Carlsonarts LLC. As curator Marc Pally notes, it was no small undertaking:

"The construction process was about one year and was very complex, it's a steel structure with a skin of aluminum with 670 gallons of paint on the skin. The 100,000 pounds of steel - underneath these panels is an elegant truss system. The steel had to be galvanized, the panels had to be painted. The sections had to be welded, so they're complicated procedures. It called upon the greatest construction fabricators in southern California to master the challenges the engineer had come up with."

Once completed, both curator and artist say they were exceedingly satisfied.
A true Hollywood ending.

Hear artist Tony Tasset explain what it took to get the colors of the Rainbow just right:



And watch as Marc Pally explains the feat of engineering required to complete the installation:

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