Coming Together (2001) was created by Franco-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002). The thirty-eight foot monumental sculpture is prominently located at 8th Avenue and Harbor Drive at the San Diego Convention Center and depicts a human face divided in half – one side consists of mirrored mosaics, while the other consists of multi-colored ceramics. Financing was graciously provided by the Port of San Diego. The San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board, the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, and Port’s Public Art Committee worked in conjunction to select and recommend placement of the imposing artwork.
In a statement regarding the sculpture, Saint Phalle explains: “The sculpture I have proposed to the Convention Center is the image of one person in all his or her magnificence and joy, which is represented by its brightly colored glass flickering in the sunlight. I also show the darker image of the self in the gray and black tones. There is the feminine side with the longer hair and the masculine side. It is coming together, the integration of the self” (statement to the Unified Port of San Diego).
Weighing ten tons and constructed of three separate pieces, Coming Together was a project realized with a team of assistants, including Lech Juretko and Marcelo Zitelli. Artistic processes and final installation were documented in a KPBS TV program by Nick Nordquist. Saint Phalle’s final design reflected the successful integration of modern technology with “Egyptian style” which implemented artisanal craftsmanship and careful customization of material. Varied media such as petrified wood, fossils, mirrored-glass, and stones all added to the strong textural component, patterns, and iridescence that were ubiquitous in Saint Phalle’s work. Coming Together is a complex sculpture that reflects the duality of self. It is a highly revered work of art in Southern California and continues to attract visitors from around the world.
Coming Together, 2001. © Jewel Goode, 2014. All Rights Reserved