Larger than life

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Some things are larger than life, such as this statue titled “Unconditional Surrender” (aka “The Kiss”) in downtown San Diego:

Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego in April 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That picture was taken in April 2013, just a few days after the statue had been installed. The statue was a replacement for one created by Seward Johnson that was originally installed in March 2007. Johnson’s original statue was on loan to San Diego and was to be removed in August 2010.

Initially, the public was aghast: It was too large for its location on the harbor, it was copyright infringement of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photograph titled V–J day in Times Square which was published in Life magazine in 1945. I can’t show you Eisenstaedt’s photograph since he died in 1995; thus, it is still protected by copyright law.

Johnson has stated that he was familiar with the copyright law regarding Eisenstaedt’s photograph so instead he used a different photograph of the same scene taken by Victor Jorgensen and which is in the public domain:

Unconditional Surrender

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Way too many people said that the statue was inappropriate since little children could look up the nurse’s skirt. Here is a picture taken on July 14, 2009, of two adults and two children who just finished doing exactly that—I watched them!

Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego in July 2009

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As you can see, the boy appears to be ecstatic about what he just saw, which was absolutely nothing!……lol

Some people said that the statue, and even the iconic photograph, was not appropriate in today’s world because the woman involved was not asked for her consent to be kissed. The soldier simply grabbed the closest woman and kissed her. Such would be considered sexual assault in today’s world and thus should not be used as public art.

Seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CaliforniaDespite public opinion against the statue, it remained. Eventually the public accepted it since it became a tourist attraction, one of two controversial tourist attractions in San Diego, the other being the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove.

In August 2010 when it was announced that the statue was being removed, the public was outraged. The statue remained under a one-year extension.

Finally, in August 2011, it was announced that the statue would be dismantled and taken away. It could not stay under an extension because, since it was made of foam and urethane, it had deteriorated and needed to be repaired. The City could buy it for half a million or so, but it still needed to be repaired. The City said no; the public was disheartened. People rushed down to have their picture taken with the statue, many emulating the famous pose (see the couple that the arrow points to in the picture below):

IMG_6034 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Because the statue had become an iconic tourist attraction, and because it was located right next to the USS Midway Museum, the folks at the Midway Museum undertook a public relations campaign to get the San Diego Unified Port District to purchase a replacement statue. Due to the problems with foam and urethane, a weather-resistant bronze statue was considered. Unfortunately, the cost for a bronze statue was up in the million-dollar range.

Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego taken from the USS Midway Museum on May 27, 2012.

Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego seen from the USS Midway Museum on May 27, 2012.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

USS Midway Museum and Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Nonetheless, in March 2012, the Port voted to purchase a bronze replacement. That turned into a controversial decision due to the cost, ultimately causing three of the Port’s Board members to resign. The Midway Museum took the lead in fundraising; construction of the new statue proceeded. Ultimately, three overly wealthy citizens contributed $100,000 each while thousands of people like me donated the rest.

Finally, in late May 2012, after Memorial Day, the statue was removed.

Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Gone

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The new “Unconditional Surrender” statue arrived on February 11, 2013, and was bolted into place two days later. The public was happy.

Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Location of the Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

THE END

Unconditional Surrender statue in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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18 thoughts on “Larger than life

  1. janeykate

    That was a really nice and informative read, I love the statue btw! Public opinion is always divided about things like this, we have an iconic statue at home in the north of England, which is called ‘The Angel of the North’. I passed it every day on my way to work for a while, and loved it from the start. But lots of people hated it at first, and there was a campaign to ‘stop the statue’. Now, many years later it seems to be a much loved landmark, and is used as an iconic symbol for the north of England in films and documentaries etc.
    Jane x

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  2. Kathy

    Thanks for your post. The statue is wonderful. Regarding the charge of sexual harassment: I wasn’t around back then, but my guess is that, even though surprised, that nurse was so happy the war was over, she threw everything she had into that kiss.

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  3. Java Girl

    What a great post! Such a shame there was such an uproar about it. And it’s actually the most “tame” sculptures out here in Grounds for Sculptures. I’m happy they got a replacement though. It’s pretty tall, right. I enjoyed just looking at when I saw it in person. 🙂

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  4. philipfontana

    Russel Ray! Ah, the famous Times Square, New York, WW II photo put to sculpture! Wonderful story & see these photos! And to think that both these statues were from relatively “recent” years!!! Phil

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