For years we’ve traced the wanderings of “Golden Boy,” a gold-covered nude statue — made in 1916 and originally named “Electricity”– an AT&T mascot that’s had several corporate homes in the New York City area. Now we learn that a new statue, strikingly similar in design (but without the power cables), is about to become the centerpiece of an upscale mall in Glendale, California.
The new statue is a copy of “Spirit of American Youth,” which was itself made 30 years after Electricity, and by a different artist. What brings this new statue into eerie alignment with Golden Boy is the decision by the mall to cover it in gold leaf. The original Spirit was cast in bronze, and stands in the American cemetery at the Normandy beachhead in France.
Is Spirit the new gold standard of silly statuary? Golden Boy has forever been in the loving embrace of his gilded cables and gleaming trunk connections, a telecom god of the Land Line Era. Spirit, on the other hand, is a recasting of a statue from a solemn place of 20th century sacrifice to a 21st century place of endless purchasing power.
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