Pittsburgh Art Places


7th and Penn Parklet

Related Links


Painted Bronze, Trees, Landscaping, Trompe L'Oeil

Artwork Type

Permanent, Sculpture, Integrated

Magnolias for Pittsburgh, 2006

Tony Tasset


Commissioning Entity Sports and Exhibition Authority
Owner Sports and Exhibition Authority of Allegheny County

Tony Tasset's Magnolia's for Pittsburgh in the 7th and Penn Parklet was his first sculptural commission for a public space. The work features two, hand-painted bronze magnolia trees, each containing blossoms made of approximately 800 individually painted petals. Surrounding Tasset's work are five live magnolia trees, ivy, and a curving walkway.

Magnolias for Pittsburgh are forever in bloom and can trick the viewer during the winter when the beautiful bronze blossoms are covered in snow, and the live magnolia trees are dormant. In many ways, Tasset's work reminds the viewer of the changing seasons, and as he stated: "create[s] a little magic, fairy-tale moment in the daily hustle and bustle of downtown Pittsburgh."

Tasset's inpsiration for this work began during a walk with his dog when he passed a perfect magnolia tree. He asked the tree's owner if he could "rent" it for a few months. With permission, Tasset attached scaffolding to the tree, covering every branch with armature wire. Back in his studio, Tasset and his assistants used the wire to form the sculptures' shape in welded steel.  Next, they coverd the sculptures' steel skeleton in clay and epoxy putty, which was then cast in bronze by Tallix Pollich foundry of Rock Tavern, New York.

Once the tree trunks and branches were cast, Tasset sculpted the magnolia blossoms in wax before molds were made for bronze casting. Each petal was formed to be slightly different, so that no two blossoms are the same.

The trees were shipped in parts to Pittsburgh where they were reassembled in the 7th and Penn Parklet. However, all of the work was worth it for Tasset: "the technical feat of making the magnolias in bronze seemed a fitting tribute to the city's industrial history."

Edited by Rachel Klipa, Office of Public Art

Tony Tasset was born in Cincinnati in 1960. He received his B.F.A. at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1983 and his M.F.A. at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1985. Tasset works with video, photography, bronze, wax, fiberglass, film and even taxidermy. His work, employing wisdom and wit, continuously contends with the trappings of Modernism, Postmodern theory, pop culture and the universal human emotions associated with love, loss, frailty and beauty. Tasset's work is in the permanent collections of prestigious museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum Fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and the San Francisco Museum of Art. In addition, he has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, including Canada, Ecuador, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. In 2007, Tasset was the subject of a solo show at Laumeier, Tony Tasset: All Things Must Pass.--Text provided courtesy of Laumeier Sculpture Park. Visit at: http://www.laumeiersculpturepark.org/