Preliminary Maquette for Motu Viget

Copied Mark di Suvero, Preliminary Maquette for Motu Viget, 1974, welded steel, overall: 21 3411 5810 14 in. (55.229.525.9 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, Art-in-Architecture Program, 1979.159.49, © 1974, Mark di Suvero

Artwork Details

Preliminary Maquette for Motu Viget
overall: 21 3411 5810 14 in. (55.229.525.9 cm)
© 1974, Mark di Suvero
Credit Line
Transfer from the General Services Administration, Art-in-Architecture Program
Mediums Description
welded steel
  • Abstract
  • Study — sculpture model
  • General Services Administration — Art-in-Architecture Program
Object Number

Artwork Description

In 1974, Mark di Suvero received a commission from the General Services Administration Art-in-Architecture Program for the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Motu Viget, which means "strength and activity," is the city's motto. Di Suvero, who stated that he likes to design his sculptures "so that they can interact with the wind and other forces," created a piece that brings the motto to life. The first design led administrators of the project to fear that the high winds characteristic of Grand Rapids would topple the piece. The revised design is a single structure composed of Cor-Ten steel. Three intersecting beams form a pyramid-like structure. A rubber "gondola" hangs suspended from cables and serves as a swing for children. The GSA rejected Motu Viget because it feared that di Suvero's departure from the original design contract would set a precedent for other artists. Di Suvero submitted the revised version, which you see here, to try to resolve the conflict. A petition of 600 signatures and more than 400 letters from the citizens of Grand Rapids led the GSA to reconsider. The revised sculpture was installed in 1977 and measures 35 by 38 by 54 feet.


Media - 1979.159.44 - SAAM-1979.159.44_1 - 56988
Sculpture Down to Scale: Models for Public Art at Federal Buildings, 1974 – 1985
May 31, 2019November 22, 2020
Artists used preliminary models—or maquettes—to communicate their ideas.