This past week, I finally spun the “Cube,” a sculpture iconic to the University of Michigan. The Cube, I’ve recently learned, is officially titled “Endover.” It was a gift from UM’s class of 1965 and was installed on Regents’ Plaza in 1968. Throughout most of my first two years of university, cube-spinning was non-existent due to the 20-month renovation of the Michigan Union. During this time, Regents’ Plaza was closed for construction, which also included enclosing the Cube for protection. The reopening of the Michigan Union last January meant the return of the famous sculpture.
The Cube’s creator, Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal, was a University of Michigan Alumnus. After taking sculpture classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, Rosenthal attended UM and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1936. He was known for his public art sculptures, of which can be found in many of the United States’ largest cities.
Ann Arbor’s Cube is among Rosenthal’s numerous outdoor sculptures. The massive cube sculpture spins on its axis if nudged, contrasting its initial motionless appearance. It has clean corners and a geometrical aesthetic, but its faces aren’t entirely flat, as they are full of various shapes, planes, and indentations. The Cube, or Endover, is considered a version of the Alamo, a nearly identical sculpture located on Astor Place in New York City’s Manhattan. Both cubes are made of Corten steel and measure at 15 feet wide by 15 feet tall. There is a difference, however; while the Alamo rotates like Endover, its pivot is on a separate platform, whereas the Endover’s pivot is lowered into the ground.
I’m looking forward to stopping by the Cube whenever I visit the Michigan Union, though students aren’t the only ones who enjoy spinning the Cube. According to UM legend, the president is tasked with spinning the cube each morning on their way to the Fleming Building. While this might not be happening with COVID-19, current UM president Mark Schlissel was noted to give the Cube a push following his approval as U-M’s 14th president. His predecessor, Mary Sue Coleman, was even featured in a Youtube video enacting the UM tradition.
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