Today at 10 a.m., one of Denver’s most recognizable pieces of public art, Mark di Suvero’s iconic “Lao Tzu,“ will be dismantled and moved from its spot outside the Denver Public Library. The sculpture is moving because of extensive renovations to the Denver Art Museum’s (DAM) North Building. It’s unclear what will happen to the sculpture because the museum, which owns the sculpture, is re-developing its outdoor installation plan with the North Building changes in mind. According to the DAM, it cannot currently release any details about when or if the sculpture will return while the plan is under development.
What we do know is that the 33,000-pound structure will be disassembled into multiple pieces and then moved with a crane and lift. Later it will be moved using a flatbed truck to offsite storage during the DAM’s North Building renovation project.
The sculpture, often used as a landmark in Downtown Denver, will be missed in the heart of the Golden Triangle area. Installed in April of 1996, some people saw it as a harbinger that Denver was growing into a big city. This was in part because the artwork was originally installed in a park in New York City before it came to Denver.
Despite Di Suvero’s ties to the US as an NYC artist, the work also has international influences. Di Suvero — born in Shanghai to Italian diplomats — named the sculpture after the 6th century B.C. philosopher, and founder of Taoism, Lao Tzu. Some consider “Lao Tzu” one of Di Suvero’s best pieces of work as it mixes both his earlier styles of unruly shapes with the clean materials of his later art. Others found it too similar to a piece of “scrap steel.” Whether you’re a fan of the artwork or not, the bright orange structure is finding a new home today. Hopefully, it will return to the Denver streets sooner rather than later.