Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lorado Taft: Civil War Generals

A Large collection
of ancient Chinese bronze vessels
(Shang dynasty through Qin dynasty)
is in Chicago now,
and they
remind me of three bronze portraits
of Civil War Generals
now on display at the Chicago Public Library.

These things
felt a bit heavy-handed
to me
when I first saw them

But, they're serving
the same purpose
that those ceremonial
bronze cauldrons
served the early dynasties of China
for over a thousand years:

The celebration of earthly power,
as handed down by the sacred ancestors
from one generation to the next.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Freeman Schoolcraft

Dedicated to Peace

Just discovered
this local sculptor,
Freeman Schoolcraft (1905-1983)
in the catalog
of the Chicago Vicinity Show of 1948

(the exhibition of local artists
sponsored annually by the Art Institute of Chicago
before it was discontinued
by the last director, James Wood, in the 1980's)

And since it's heavy monumentality
resembled the above figure
that my father made in 1946,
it caught my attention.

(even if it doesn't quite have the gentle swing
that R.J. put into his)

And while we're comparing things,
might as well throw in this piece
by Milton Horn
that was done
about the same time.
(and is a bit more turbulent)

As a highschool student in Jackson, Michigan,
Freeman's work was noticed by Laredo Taft
who was in town doing some monuments.

So he was encouraged to study with Taft in Chicago,
and he later got
some nice commissions
from the W.P.A.,
like the above facade
of a courthouse in Peoria.

But tastes rapidly changed in the post-war era,
and though Freeman updated his style,
it just wasn't enough to hang onto
a career in the artworld.

So, like many artists of his generation,
he ended up as a teacher,
in his case,
moving to a small state college
in Augusta, Georgia.

Here's his last piece.

He made the maquette,
and students did the rest.

He looked like an old sculptor,
didn't he ?