Identifying public artwork in the intro to the Bob Newhart Show?
December 29, 2018 10:52 PM   Subscribe

In this still from the intro to the Bob Newhart show, there is a large b/w art piece on the right side of the image, outside the building next to his office building, at 444 N. Michigan Ave. What is that artwork, which appears to be a large line drawing of three people? Or how can I find out?

The current building at 444 N. Michigan was built in 1976, and this image dates to at least the first season of the show (1972-1973). If the artwork isn't easily identifiable, can you help me find out the name of the previous building?
posted by Radiophonic Oddity to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is the original 1972 intro, and at 0:15 you can see that the adjacent building matches that shown in this 1972 photograph.

A later version of the intro shows the new building at 444 N. Michigan, with Bob walking in front of the artwork. It looks to me like there was some sort of construction fence around the front of the building that incorporated the artwork. An old version of the show's Wikipedia article says that the intro was changed in the fourth season (1975).
posted by Knappster at 1:17 AM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's Monument with Standing Beast by Jean Dubuffet AKA "Snoopy in a Blender".
posted by beagle at 7:14 AM on December 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Dubuffet is still standing and is 3/4 of a mile SW of there. The rightmost figure appears to be wearing a hard hat. I'm wondering if the art was actually 2D, on a temporary façade to cover construction work. Might ask at ForgottenChicago, they have a website, a facebook, and a reddit.
posted by at at 7:32 AM on December 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't have further insight into this question i'm afraid, but I feel compelled to say that it is really pleasing that the mefite who mentioned "snoopy in a blender" is "beagle."
posted by elgee at 8:01 AM on December 30, 2018 [9 favorites]

I’m confused, because that Wikipedia article says it’s a 1984 piece.
posted by thejoshu at 8:22 AM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

The building was the probably the Educational Facilities Center. I can see several references to the pending completion of this building in 1974, but I haven't found any references to it after it was built. (So it's possible the building became something other than what was planned.)

For example, according to AV Guide Magazine, Volume 51:

"An expansion program is now under way for EFC operations, in preparation for late-1974 completion of the new specially designed 34-floor Educational Facilities Building which will rise at 444 North Michigan, just across from the famed Chicago TRIBUNE."

Assuming you might want to do more research to track down who have been involved with the art installation, I found the following:

According to the Depaulia (A Depaul University newspaper) for May 2, 1975:

"The day school program was once part of the Educational Facilities Center, which was designed for the participation of an experimental group of youngsters in planned "learning environments," under the guidance of DePaul Graduate students and faculty. It was first accomodated at 223 N. Michigan Avenue as part of a larger program under the direction of Mr. George Fisher of the National Education Association."

And according to the handwritten notes on page 18 of this speech by Senator Hubert Humphrey, given at a NYC luncheon of the Educational Facilities Corporation, two people named Gene Golub and Marian Romanek may have been involved with funding the new building. It also mentions George Fisher along with Jim Allen, U.S. Commissioner of Education.

(The art doesn't look like Monument With Standing Beast to me, nor does it look like it came from Dubuffet's related Hourloupe cycle. But it's hard to say. Maybe from a different angle.)
posted by lockedroomguy at 9:24 AM on December 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Well, based on the date discrepancy, I take back my answer (Monument with Standing Beast) and reopen this question. MwSB was installed in 1984, well after the the end of the BN show, so it has to be something else.

So I'm going to agree with the suggestion by at, above, that it's actually 2D art attached to a construction fence, around the building mentioned by lockedroomguy at 444 N. Michigan Ave. This is clear in the video linked by Knappster. It seems to depict three people, including one in a hard hat, looking upward, presumably at the building going up at 444.
posted by beagle at 9:57 AM on December 30, 2018

Here's a Google street view more or less matching the point of view of the above video at 0:52.
posted by beagle at 10:00 AM on December 30, 2018

It turns out that Gene Golub (from my post above--he's the guy referred to in the notes for Senator Humphrey's speech) was head of Golub & Co., a Chicago real estate and development company. It's still a family business and Gene is still alive and involved, as is (son?) Lee Golub. They probably have records (or memories!) identifying who the general contractor was for the building, and that may get you to who put up the art/fence. Possibly Gene Golub remembers the artwork? That website has what you need for contacting them.

It could also be that this was a standard fence/art thingy erected at Chicago construction sites. If Golub can't help, I would contact a librarian at the Chicago Public Library and see if they can track it down.
posted by lockedroomguy at 11:29 AM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

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