Milord LaChamarre, upclose and weirder than ever inside Centre Square
After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting in the wings, literally in a corner behind the building, hoisted up on what looked like a hydraulic lift from Jiffylube, Milord LaChamarre (My Lord of the Fancy Vest), one of Philadelphia’s best public art works, is in a better place, where he’s visible at all angles, and you can actually study his glorious weirdness up close!

Milord LaChamarre (1973) by Jean Dubuffet, newly sited inside Centre Square. Photo by Roberta
Milord LaChamarre (1973) by Jean Dubuffet, newly sited inside Centre Square. Photo by Roberta

I had been huffing and puffing about the important sculpture’s disrespectful siting since I saw it eons ago in the 1990s. So, my excitement at seeing its new placement — which I feel is much more respectful — triggered a kind of sigh of relief and maybe even happiness.

Sure, the 1973 Art Brut masterwork by Jean Dubuffet is not in the exalted position of its compatriot, the Clothespin (1976) by Claes Oldenburg out front of the building. But for one weird dude — fierce, aggressive and off the rails (Gritty and Don Quixote come to mind) — his placement inside a corporate structure is weirdly appropriate. Not only does the sculpture hold its own in the space but as a monumental art work chosen to stand before a corporate signboard, a kind of mascot, it’s a great and maybe unintentional symbol of late stage corporate capitalism.

I suggest a tour of Milord LaChamarre that begins at street level, by entering Centre Square after passing by the Clothespin. The sculpture’s in the atrium and you can’t miss it. Then, for further fun, take the escalator to the subway level and bask in all the many facets of the art work while you descend. At the subway concourse level the sculpture towers over you and is fully monumentally sublime, awesome and fearful in equal measure. For more information and a different point of view about Milord’s new siting, see Inga Saffron’s piece in today’s Inquirer.

Reach me at with your thoughts about this and other public art you want to talk about.


Centre Square, claes oldenburg, Clothespin, corportate, jean dubuffet, Milord LaChamarre, public art, sculpture



Sign up to receive Artblog’s weekly updates and monthly Our Picks sent directly to your inbox.

Subscribe Today!

Send this to a friend