Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Online art medals of the 20th Century

Constantin Meunier




I finally got around to browsing through
the art medal sites that I've linked on the right.

The Belgian and French sites disappointed me.
Yes, the work is neatly done
but ho-hum,
except for the above piece,
by an artist who turns out to be the most
famous name on the site,
and perhaps the best medal sculptor
in this post.



Larado Taft


But I really liked the American site

Does this mean I'm ethno-centric ?
I suppose it does -
but I still think there's a joy
and excitement in the American work
that has evaded their more staid
European contemporaries.



And, of course, I've aways been partial
to our local Chicago boy, Laredo Taft,
and this medal that shows the fountain
he put in front of the Art Institute.

Isn't that a fine, gentle young woman
he shows above ?

His female figures all look like co-eds
who are majoring in early childhood education.






Tait Mackenzie


Maybe a little bombastic,
maybe a little dull,
but at least it's upbeat
and seems to belong in the
athletic department
of a midwestern state university.




Frederick Macmonnies



Maybe a little cartoonish,
but at least it doesn't seem
to take itself very seriously




Oronzio Maldarelli


I like the New York
heavy-figure school of the 30's

(and, of course,
like to imagine myself in a pool
with naked women)





Paul Manship


This coin feels precious
( which is how coins should feel, no ? )



McNeil


Upbeat,
youthful,
energetic,
cheerful

(O.K. - it's not great sculpture,
it's just fun)







Robert Aitken


Not the best design,
but how could an embracing nude couple
be more tastefully done ?




Gertrude Lathrop


I wish I could find more of her work on the internet,
I like her sense of beauty.






Henry Kreiss

A nice dramatic scene
unfolds in a very small space





James Earle Fraser


more
boyish cartoon stuff
(but wouldn't John Ford
deserve a medal like this ?)






John Gregory

I like the floral still-life on the right



Lee Lawrie


This very busy monumental sculptor
has a nice, simple touch with coins

(but was he a communist ?)



Anthony Di Francisci


Any better ideas
for depicting the creation of the universe
on a coin ?




Bruce Moore



Such dramatic animals.
How can the viewer not smile ?



Carl Schmitz



A bit staid and blockish,
but he was my father's advisor
at the University of Michigan,
so I couldn't just ignore him.


Donald De Lue

The background is so flat,
and the foreground is so voluptuous.

It's silly - and majestic
at the same time





John Flanagan


From what I've see,
I think Flanagan's talent
was more apparent in these medals
than it was in his free standing sculpture.
A worthy successor to
Saint-Gaudens.

4 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

For some reason I like the concave better as a rule.

January 24, 2008  
Blogger Gawain said...

Wow, these are really wonderful work. I confess I have never understood the art form -- it's not just that I have not managed to stir in myself an aesthetic interest in the objects (which is curious given my strong preference for things small and shiny -- or maybe not so curious given that they are always poorly displayed and poorly lit -- a shortcoming of the genre which your post wonderfully dispels); but it is also that I do not understand how they fit into life. By whom are they commissioned? And to what purpose? In what quantities are they struck and what is done with them once they are? Do you have any such stories regarding these beauties?

In the Museo Correr in Venice I saw last year a wonderful object -- a book of engravings of a series of medals which a great aristocrat-scholar had designed and struck to commemorate glorious events from his family history. The book was delicious -- the engravings, the paper, the typeface, the binding; it was good 2 feet by 1 foot in size; next to it were displayed the medals and I remember thinking how good they were but how much I preferred looking at the engravings. Then again, those medals were not small or shiny. They were in some dark brown metal -- er... pewter? -- the color of dark chocolate, hardly shiny, and huge, about the size of a small saucer. I do remember being really impressed by the project -- especially its scale and cost contrasted with the smallness and obscurity of the objects made.

January 26, 2008  
Anonymous lookingforbeauty said...

These are great. I really appreciate the research you bring to sharing your art discoveries and interests with us. Isn't the bronze medium so very beautiful? I love the understated quality of it.It helps focus on the object of the design since there is no complication of colour included. I get a warm earthy feel from it.
Besides that, coins or small medals are so nice to hold in one's hands. Even our coins that we use in daily transactions have lovely bas reliefs.

February 01, 2008  
Anonymous marly said...

This is so pleasing--to see all these sculptors at work "in little" in such different styles and with such different modes of treating depth and circumscribed space.

And you are unfailingly amusing when it comes to description! Here and in the next one, you are unmistakably Chris--and not just because of the bathing beauties.

February 04, 2008  

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