Contrary to the impression I might have given in my last post -- I actually enjoy the cemetery sculpture gardens -- and visited several last Summer, including Graceland , Bohemian National , and Oakwoods (whose pieces are displayed in this post)
My over-the-top favorite was, of course, Graceland -- and I have already arranged for friends to pitch my corpse over the wall on the first moonless night that follows my demise.
Which is not to say that I think cemetery sculpture should be anyplace other than a cemetery.
But that's part of my ever-developing-theory of visual art: there's no such thing as bad sculpture -- there's just some sculpture that's in the wrong place -- and all sculpture deserves to be somewhere -- even if it's only in (or buried beneath) the sculptor's home.
Let's face it -- cemetery sculpture is mostly lugubrious -- slow -- turgid -- peaceful but too peaceful -- so it needs to be kept in the special place for which it was intended.
(most of it is also too stiff and awkward to get posted to this blog -- but still, in its proper place, it serves the function of honoring the vast multitude of people who don't care about such things)
Unfortunately, Chicago doesn't have much of my favorite kind of cemetery sculpture - i.e. those featuring young female nudes -- and here is a good link to those French and Italian cemeteries that are famous for them.
So the above piece, from Oakwoods (about a mile south of the University of Chicago) is as close as we come.
But isn't it a perfect juxtposition: the spirit of life placed into the monuments of death ?
Mostly what we get in Chicago are these heavenly, sexless creatures -- which at least can be elegant and graceful -- qualities mostly absent in the big city that's bustling away outside these quiet sanctuaries.
Well -- maybe what we really need are beautiful, quiet sanctuaries without the visual clutter of tombstones --- but that seems to be beyond the imagination of modern American civic leaders.