May 092016

San Francisco Main Library
Now the Asian Art Museum

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library

Sometime between 1915 and 1917, Leo Lentelli was commissioned to design five large sculptures for the facade of the Main Public Library, now the Asian Art Museum.

In a March 1918 article titled “An Expression of Decorative Sculpture – Leo Lentelli,” published in The Architect and Engineer, Sadakichi Hartmann boldly stated that the five figures were “by far the most important work Lentelli has as yet attempted.” The sculptures, which represent Art, Literature, Philosophy, Science and Law, are 7-feet 8-inch high cement figures once set atop granite pedestals and originally sat above the library’s main entrance.

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library

Hartmann explained that “even the medium is new…(past Lentelli) sculpture was done in cement and Lentelli has stuck to it as his principal medium of expression. It is warmer in color, almost looks like granite when properly polished and gone over, is cast easily and less expensively and stands the inclemency’s of the climate – rain, wind and mist-as well as any other medium.”

Hartman went on to say that Lentelli’s sculptures are an “effective juxtaposition of deep lines and massive forms, of black accents and large, quiet planes.”  leaving the object free of what Hartmann described as “useless conventional details. ” Because of this contrast Hartmann pointed out that  “Lentelli’s works are not made for indoors. They are constructed to be seen in the open, in sunlight, or on gray days, and generally from a considerable distance and particular view points.”

Leo LentelliThe sculptures were removed when the building was remodeled into the Asian Art museum and sold to a private collector by the City of San Francisco.

Lentelli was born in Bologna and began his career in New York, arriving in San Francisco to participate in the Pan Pacific International Exposition in 1915. He sculpted the Genii on Columns for the Court of the Universe, the columns of Earth and Air for the Court of the Ages and the figure of Aspiration for the main portal of the Palace of Fine Arts. He received numerous commissions for public sculpture throughout the United States including the sculptures of Mining and Agriculture for the Sullivan Gate of the Denver City Park, the sculptures for the facade of the Loew’s Theatre in St. Louis and the statue of Cardinal James Gibbons in Meridian Hill, Washington D.C..  San Franciscan’s can find his work on the entry way to the Hunter Dunlin Building, as well as the design of the light stanchions that make up the Path of Gold on Market Street.

Lentelli died in Rome in 1962.

Leo Lentelli Allegorical Figures

Leo Lentelli


















Leo Lentelli

Leo Lentelli


















Original clay sculpture. Source- Lentelli Papers Smithsonian Archives of American Art

Original clay sculptures. Source- Lentelli Papers – Smithsonian Archives of American Art

In working with cast stone, first a clay model is made, then a mold is made from the clay model.  Finally a cementious material is poured into the model to create the final piece.

Leo Lentelli

I would like to thank Piraneseum for their help on this article.

Hell Mouth on Golden Gate Avenue

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Apr 182016
Hell Mouth on Golden Gate Avenue

The corner of Franklin and Golden Gate This interpretation of the Pallazo Zuccari on the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy once graced the front entry to San Francisco Italian restaurant Vivande. Vivande was the run by Chef Carlo Middione.  Middione lost his sense of taste and smell in an auto accident in Spring of 2007 and sadly closed his two restaurants. This piece was created by Michael H. Casey in 1995. Michael H. Casey (1947-2013), received his BFA in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design. Moving to California in 1974  to work on the ornamental exterior of the Museum of Man Continue Reading

Inflatable Bunnies Hop to San Francisco

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Apr 052016
Inflatable Bunnies Hop to San Francisco

Inflatable bunnies, an art installation by Australian artist Amanda Parer has stopped in San Francisco for a few days. The monumental rabbits, each sewn in nylon, inflated and internally lit. will be in San Francisco from April 4, 2016 to the 25th. The giant rabbits will travel throughout North America, making stops in Washington D.C.,  Toronto, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Denver and Memphis. The project, made possible by a loan of $50,000 from the S.F. Cultural Affairs office to the San Francisco Arts Commission is also sponsored by the Recreation & Park Department and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development Continue Reading

Center of San Francisco

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Center of San Francisco

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83 McAllister

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83 McAllister

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Passage of Remembrance

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Passage of Remembrance

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Judge James Seawell

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Judge James Seawell

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Dianne Feinstein

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Dianne Feinstein

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Jan 292014
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Jun 142013
Great Seal of California

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May 152013
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Apr 262013
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Dec 292012
San Francisco's Civic Center the Heart of the City Beautiful Movement

San Francisco’s 1906 fire and earthquake not only destroyed much of San Francisco, it also destroyed the dream of many to bring the City Beautiful Movement to large sections of San Francisco. The City Beautiful Movement began with the “White City,” also known as the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. The Exposition took place in Chicago and was an exercise in light, order and forward thinking. The shimmering “White City” was a model of early city planning and architectural cohesion. In the Court of Honor all of the buildings had uniform heights, were decorated roughly in the same manner, and painted bright Continue Reading

Sep 302012
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Aug 292012
Parisian Street Artist Tags the Asian Art Museum

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