The Fountain of Time
Above is a view of Chicago's Midway Plaisance, looking west from the center, towards Lorado Taft's 100-foot long 'Fountain of Time' made in 1910-1922.
My feelings are split concerning this monumental achievement.
It presents a cavalcade of humanity -- and what else can non-religious/non-political figure sculpture do ?
And there is a sweeping, rhythmic sense of overall design --like the funerary cavalcade presented in relief on a Wei dynasty monument at the Art Institute.
But on the other hand -- it's not far removed from the bodacious carnival that was located here 15 years before this project was begun (the namesake for the 'midways'of American carnivals ever since) -- i.e. it just feels so hoaky.
Especially this big, goofy, hooded character -- who, like Taft's Eternal Silence has all the profundity of a cartoon villain.
The multi-figure combinations just don't seem to rise above comic book -- or school book -- illustration for me. Overall power is not maintained in the quest for poignant detail.
But some of the details are poignant -- like this little episode of lovers (who feel so American -- like Jack and Diane)
Maybe we should consider this more like a compilation of 3-minute pop songs, rather than the majestic symphony that it was clearly intended to become.
Here's a section from the back that does seem symphonic -- at least from a certain distance.
Here's a detail of what troubles me about the restoration -- i.e. I don't believe this rough-grained surface was original to the piece -- although, as I recall from how it looked 25 years ago, the original concrete surface had been so badly mauled by Chicago weather, maybe this thick-pasty-grainy treatment was the best way to go -- taking the surface back before it was finished -- so the masses and movements are still there -- but the surface planes are definately gone.
More details will be posted as time permits.