It was created in 1975 on the initiative of the Technische Universität (TU) Wien and the University of applied arts to celebrate the 100th birthday of Ferdinand Porsche. Both rectors agreed with Porsche AG to initiate a student competition whose explicit goal was to promote students of contemporary art and aesthetics. In a three-stage process, the jury, consisting of university representatives and members of the Porsche family, chose the design of the artist Barbara Valenta. This is one of the few sculptures in Vienna's public space made by a woman and aesthetically committed to modernism.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree from the Sarah Lawrence University, the American artist Barbara Valenta (1936 - 2003) moved to Vienna, where she studied at the Academy of applied arts (known today as the University of Applied Arts) in Wander Bertoni's master class. After several exhibitions in Vienna, she returned to the USA in 1978, where she worked as an artist, lecturer and author.
The life and work of Ferdinand Porsche (1875 - 1951) from the 1930s onwards was marked by his close connection to national socialism and the use of forced labour. The extent of this involvement did not become known to the general public until 1997, when the large-scale study "Das Volkswagenwerk und seine Arbeiter im Dritten Reich” [The Volkswagen plant and its workers in the Third Reich] by Hans Mommsen and Manfred Grieger, financed by Volkswagen AG, was published.
In stark contrast to when the monument was created in the middle of the 1970s, Porsche's achievements as an engineer have since faded into the background. The sculpture, welded from chrome-nickel steel plates, makes direct reference to one of these technical developments: "The relationship between the fluid and the mechanical relates to air cooling – Porsche's invention." (Barbara Valenta)
Vienna, July 2023