New Orleans - CBD: Lafayette Square - Eye Benches IV
Eye Benches IV, executed by Louise Bourgeois in 2001, sits on the Camp street side of Lafayette Square. The pair of bronze sculptures, each measuring 54" x 107" x 65" and equipped with lights for eye sockets, is part of Sculpture for New Orleans, curated by Michael Manjarris and Peter Lundberg.
Lafayette Square, bound by St. Charles Avenue, Camp Street and Maestri Street, was founded in 1788 for the City's first suburb, Faubourg Ste. Marie, making it the second oldest park in New Orleans. Originally called "place publique", the square was renamed after Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat and general who fought on the American side in the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette declined the invitation to become the first Governor when the United purchased Lousiana, but his popularity was evident when he visited New Orleans from April 9-15, 1825 to cheers of "Vive Lafayette!"
In the early 20th Century, three bronze statues were placed along the East/West axis of the square. A statue of Henry Clay was moved from the intersection of Canal and Royal and placed in the center of the park, and statues of John McDonogh and Benjamin Franklin were placed on St. Charles Avenue and Camp Street, respectively. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to many of the trees, and broken glass and debris scattered from nearby buildings made Lafayette Square unsafe. A group of neighborhood residents and downtown workers formed the non-profit Lafayette Square Conservancy (LSC), to renovate, improve and preserve the space.