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Milton Hebald | 1917-2015

By MIKE BOEHM (L.A. Times) -

Milton Hebald, the sculptor who created renowned public installations in Los Angeles, New York and around the world, dies at 97.

Most art lovers won't recognize the name Milton Hebald. But it's safe to assume that tens of millions of people have seen his work: sculptures, installed in prominent public places in Los Angeles and New York City, that include a monumental display of the 12 signs of the Zodiac that stood for decades at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

Outside the front entrance to the Stuart Ketchum Downtown YMCA in Los Angeles, visitors dropping in for a workout pass Hebald's 1986 "Olympiade '84," a bronze depicting three women racing in full stride, their pony tails flying. Around the side of the building is "Handstand," a statue of a boy performing that athletic move one-handed atop a narrow pedestal.

Milton Hebald's "Handstand," a statue of a boy performing that athletic move one-handed atop a narrow pedestal, is situated near the Stuart Ketchum Downtown YMCA in Los Angeles.

In New York's Central Park, Hebald's statues of an embracing Romeo and Juliet and of Prospero and Miranda from "The Tempest" stand outside the Delacorte Theater, where stars perform each summer in the Shakespeare in the Park series.

For more than 30 years starting in 1961, Hebald's 200-foot-long "Zodiac Screen" hung against a curtain of glass at the entrance to the international terminal of the now-defunct Pan American Airlines at JFK Airport. For many arriving foreign travelers – possibly including the Beatles, who came through the terminal in 1964 on their first visit to the United States -- it was their first glimpse of art on American soil.

Pilgrims to James Joyce's grave in Zurich, Switzerland, continue to have their reveries fed by Hebald's 1966 life size bronze capturing the great modernist author deep in thought, with open book in hand.

Hebald, 97, died Monday at an assisted living facility in West Hollywood where he spent the last year of his life. Hebald's death ended nearly 90 years of art-making.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times


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