Some things are larger than life, such as this statue titled “Unconditional Surrender” (aka “The Kiss”) in downtown San Diego:
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:
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!
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.
Despite 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):
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.
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.
The new “Unconditional Surrender” statue arrived on February 11, 2013, and was bolted into place two days later. The public was happy.
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