Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Firemen's Memorial: OMOM Essay 45

In "About the Sculpture" I examine how the bronze relief and two groups of marble figures combine to make a vivid statement about the excitement and hazards of firefighting. Then I suggest that the reader imagine how extraordinarily inexpressive this memorial would be were it only a list of names. In my Battery Park podcast, I argue (with additional examples) that for any memorial, including the World Trade Center memorial, representational sculpture is more evocative than a list of names set in landscape architecture.

"About the Subject" surveys major fires in New York from 1776, when Nathan Hale (Essay 8 of Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan) was arrested as a possible arsonist, until 1908, when the death of a 35-year-veteran of the New York Fire Department inspired the creation of this memorial.

For the Sidebar it amused me to use a few lines from my favorite song from The Scarlet Pimpernel in a very literal sense.

Below: the Vitruvian wave is usually a simple running spiral, but on the Firemen's Memorial, flame and smoke lick its edges.

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