Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sherman Monument: OMOM Essay 31

I'm fond of Saint Gaudens not only for the sculptures he produced, but for the way he approached art. "About the Sculpture" describes Saint Gaudens proposing to improve his assistants' skills by a hook-and-spring arrangement … You'll have to read it. Several critics have commented disparagingly that the striding woman and the equestrian figure don't seem to belong together, so I was careful to point out the elements that weld them into a visual unit.

For "About the Subject" in Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan the obvious choice was Sherman's March through Georgia (see the Forgotten Delights essay on that topic), but at some point I stumbled across a reference to Sherman's 1863 court-martial of a journalist. This led to a fascinating investigation of 19th-c. communication technology, media and politics. The Sidebar gives an excerpt on the media from Sherman's Memoirs (which ought to rank as great American literature).

I sometimes fantasize about taking a high-powered water pistol with me when I photograph Sherman. It's so extraordinarily difficult to find a good angle that doesn't include multiple pigeons. I only want to make them fly away for a few minutes … Then again, they're destroying the gilding on the statue, so I'd prefer they perch elsewhere.

The Forgotten Delights calendar has a close-up of Victory's head and Sherman's famous comment on war.

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