Saturday, February 24, 2007

John Ericsson (OMOM Essay 2): Out-takes and Discussion Questions

Here's an intriguing view of a sculptor's task in the early 20th c. written by Lorado Taft, an eminent American sculptor and art critic:

Though strongly drawn in the direction of ideal sculpture, Mr. Hartley has for some years past devoted most of his time to portrait busts, and he is now somewhat of a victim to his great reputation for this class of work. The public will not let him do anything else. A bust by Hartley is considered by many a synonym for the most precise and authentic characterization possible. Nothing could be more admirable than the conscience which the sculptor shows in these closely studied works. Nothing could be more penetrating. One submits to him with the feeling that the X-rays are to be turned on; that not only the uttermost wrinkle will be noted, but that the innermost thought is to be revealed. The sitter observes in the end with deep gratitude that professional etiquette has prevailed; the sculptor has not told everything, but it has been a narrow escape - he could have done so if he had wished to. … When Mr. Hartley is at his best he has few rivals, in this country at least, for close, intimate, unflinching characterization. Others may generalize, giving a phase of the man - a view that is effective and even masterful when seen in the proper lighting; but Mr. Hartley's searching studies present the very man himself - they will stand any light and any approach.

Click here for this and other bibliographical references from Essay 3 of Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide.

1. The surface textures of MacMonnies' Nathan Hale, 1890 (OMOM Essay 8), and Partridge's Thomas Jefferson, 1914 (Essay 50), were both influenced by works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, most famous for his Thinker, 1880. Compare the surface texture of Ericsson to the texture of those works.

4. Do you agree with the following assessment of the cause of the Civil War, 1861-1865? What other causes have you heard suggested, and are they more essential or more concrete than this one?
Despite many complexities, one ideological issue was at the center of the conflict between the North and the South - individualism versus statism - and it took the form of one concrete alternative: individual freedom versus chattel slavery. Individualism - the dominant theme of the American Constitution - places the individual over a government that is strictly limited to the protection of the freedom of the individual. Statism, on the other hand, places the government over the individual, and enables the former to violate the rights of the latter. … (John Lewis, "William Tecumseh Sherman and the Moral Impetus for Victory," The Objective Standard, Summer 2006, p. 23; entire article, pp. 21-55)

Click here for more questions and suggested readings.

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