Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

This semester I am taking art 98 course, which is about History of Modern Sculpture. “Modern art represents a developed of ideas among a number of painters, sculptors, writers, and performers who both individually and collectively sought new approaches to art-making.” As defined in(“Modern Art — Modern Art Terms and Concepts.” The Art Story,) This course is about writing intensive course which is required for all college student to graduate. Therefore, one of the assignments was to write a nine-page essay about something related to modern sculpture. The following paragraph is about my experience in a Metropolitan Museum of Art. A museum is a building where a large number of interesting and valuable objects, such as works of art, or historical items, are kept, studied, and displayed to the public. I went to the metropolitan museum of art in New York City. Metropolitan Museum, also recognized as The Met museum. The outer design of the museum is really beautiful and creative. As you go inside the museum there are many sections divided for better knowledge. The collections of the artworks displayed at the museum are modern Art, Arts of Africa and the American, Greek and Roman Art, European Sculpture and Decorative Art, Medieval Art, Arms and Armor and Egyptian Art. The reason for this museum for my assignment is that because I heard that this museum is one of the best and largest museums in the United States. Actually, it was recommended by my cousin sister whose major in education history. She told me that this museum is pretty huge and it is easy to get lost. So, I immediately grab the map and walked straight forward to European Sculpture and Decorative Art. As soon as I walked in I was surprised by the beautiful architecture, the sculpture which looked so real and the painting was so colorful. In general most of the museum, they don’t allow their visitors to take any picture or video but this museum allows all the visitors to take a picture and video which allows them to cherish its beauty and art forever. This is one of the museums that I highly recommend to anyone because it’s unique and diverse. This museum recommended of admission ticket price of 25-dollars but if you are a student then you have paid 12-dollars.
Yes, this was my first visit to an art museum because I never got a chance to visit one and art museum and I wasn’t interested in art or history. As a being business student an art really never played an importance in my life but now I realize that arts play a very important played role in our life because it represents in a lot of cultures and religions. I walked around the European Sculpture and Decorative Art section I carefully observe each sculpture and read the description. Then I choose five sculpture which I really got my eye on it. Also, I study little about Diana Augustus Saint Gaudens sculpture in class.
I decided to choose Diana sculpture made Augustus Saint Gaudens. It is titled the Statue of Diana, made between the year 1892 and 1893. The material used to make sculpture is bronze. I also learn little bite about Diana sculpture and the Artists Augustus in class. The history of this piece of artwork motivates me to choose it. First, it is probably the most famous artwork that was made by Augustus. The first impression that I got in my mind when I saw the artwork was that someone one hunting. This artwork is sometimes referred to as the Goddess of Hunt, meaning it brings the mood of being pure, power and authority. People were mesmerized by these pieces of art. Many were taking photos and wanted to get closer to the artwork. Statues of Diana stands in the hall of the museum strategically positioned to attract the attention of any person who visits the hall. It also well above the rest of the sculpture. This sculpture is in a Met Museum of Art. There are no benches nor any form of the surrounding seat, people are allowed to view it at even closer proximities. Many questions go through my mind as I looked at this artwork. I would wish to ask the artist the specific objective he had at the time of its making. How long he had the idea before making it a reality and what inspired him in coming up with it? She is poised on tiptoe, she is evanescent motionless, portrayed in a split-second moment of narrative and physical suspense, artfully directing a bow and an arrow. Made from bronze and beautifully furnished with gold color.

The period between the early 1700s and the mid-1700s marked an important period for art. This was the period in which European archaeologists, commissioned by governments and societies discovered buried ancient cities in the former Greek Empire. These discoveries of buildings, artifacts, and sculptures recreated interest in Greece -Roman culture and birthed an artistic style called Neoclassicism. The movement began in Europe in the 1750s but later found its way into the United States during the great immigration.
Neoclassicism characteristically celebrated the “greatness” of the Roman and Greek art, focusing on reason and rational order. Sculptures made in this style have a cool and unemotional appearance, which was a way the artists used to convey a sense of reason and timelessness. If the sculpture was of a scene, emotion was deftly omitted by appearances of calm and order. Further, most of the sculptures appeared wearing Greek and Roman clothing, nude or semi-nude.
By the early 1800s, neoclassical art had arrived on the shores of America. This essay explores the artistic style of Diana of The Tower by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, which was first commissioned for the first Madison Square Building as a weather vane.
Neoclassical public sculptures of the period between 1800 to the 1850s were mainly commissioned by European artists. Among the great American neoclassical sculptors was Hiram Powers. Like many American artists at this time, Powers has mainly based abroad, in Florence Italy where he worked as a host of Italian as well as French artists. Italy also had an abundance of marble which was used in sculptures before the use of bronze. The most famous sculpture by Powers was the Greek Slave (1841-1843). The figure portrayed a naked woman in chains with her face turned to the ground. The inspiration for the sculpture was a Greek slave girl captured by Ottoman army during the Greek-Turkish war of the 1820s. In the United States, the sculpture received criticisms from both divides due to the heated debate on slave trade at the time.
From such works by famous sculptors such as Hiram Powers did Augustus Saint-Gaudens model Diana (Tolles, 2004a). The first Diana was sculpted as a weathervane for the top of Madison Square Garden in New York. The sculpture is neo-classical in all characteristics, featuring a woman holding a bow loaded with an arrow and balancing on her toes. One of her legs is lifted behind. The idea of the sculpture came from White, who also designed the Madison Square building, and the lithe body of the sculpture embodied the festive and creativity of a building that was once called the “most magnificent amusement park in the world”. The statue’s inspiration was probably Diana the Huntress, which Augustus must have been inspired by the Parisian Diana’s and in particular is the neo-mannerist Diana by Houdon which was cast in 1741 and had strikingly similar classical characteristics as the Diana of the Tower.
The face of the sculpture was modeled from Augustus’ longtime model and later wife, Davida Clark while the body and form were modeled by Stanford White’s girlfriend, Dudie. Like many other neoclassical sculptors at the time, such as George Washington’s colossal by Horatio Greensborough, Diana exudes calm and composure. One feature of the sculptor that stroke fires of criticism were its nudity, which was another common feature of sculptors of neoclassicism, which mostly were nude or semi-nude with bare chests. (Hardin, 2007) This particular feature provoked angry reactions from New Yorkers, such as Anthony Comstock, who were offended by what they termed as obscenity. Additionally, Diana of the Tower was the first sculptor illuminated by electric torches. It reflected the sun during the day and at night, it shone from the electric lights cast on it.
The sculpture was originally sculpted in cement, which weighed 1800 lb; the second version was fashioned in thin sheets of copper, which were gilded while its subsequent variants were cast in bronze. Previous sculptures of the 18th and early 19th century were made from marble. In the period following the Civil War, post-1865, the use of bronze gained momentum, partly because the alloy was cheaper than iron and marble, with the earliest advocates being the sculptor and artist, Henry Kirke Brown ( Tolle, 2004b).
Diana of the Tower, cast between 1892-93 and recast in 1899 was among bronze sculptures that were inspired by the Civil War, commemorating soldiers, victories and fallen generals with various postures atop war horses. Other topics that were addressed in the sculptures of this era were slavery, the impact of war, reconstruction after disaster etc. Additionally, immigrants from Europe, landing in the United States in droves, funded artworks and monuments that reminded them of back home and in recognition of the heroes of their home countries (Dryfhout, 2008, p.207). Cast in bronze in the manner of the Beaux-Arts schools, the sculptures leaned on naturalism and dynamic treatment of surface and form.
Diana of the Tower is not military in inspiration, but the posture of the woman and the drawn arrow in her hands can be interpreted to mean the protection of Diana over the skyline of New York. The sculptor is a most representative of cultural progress and civilization in the spirit of nationhood that prevailed after the Civil war.
Most of the famous sculptors of the period collaborated with famous architects who commissioned public monuments to them, thus, Diana was fully funded by the famous New York architect Stanford White. Another famous sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward collaborated with the renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt to produce various public monuments.
Apart from public buildings, sculptors found a market among wealthy private citizens, who requested for indoor reductions of the famous models. Art shows, such as the famous World Colombia Art Exhibition in 1893, which attracted several artworks by neoclassical artists such as Augustus Saint- Gaudens, where he exhibited Diana of the Tower for the first time, atop of the Agricultural Building.
The original statue of Diana of the Tower was brought down in 1893 because of its enormous size and replaced with a 13- foot reduced version. This particular piece of art propelled Saint-Gaudens into the world stage and earned him a reputation as an international artist. Considered one of the fathers of American neoclassical sculptures, Augustus sculpted Diana on the Tower for his architect friend Stanford White who fully funded the acquisition of the materials. The sculptor had features of the neoclassical period, with nudity, an emotionless mien, and depiction of Greco-Roman statues of Rome and Paris.
The Hellenistic version of Phidias’ Athena Parthenon now on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin is my second chosen artwork. This statue, made of marble is a reduced version of the original, standing at 12 feet tall or 3.14 meters including the base, while the original was about 12 meters high and made from ivory and gold. This original, dedicated in 438 B.C and installed in the Parthenon, featured the Greek goddess of war, craft, and wisdom, standing and holding Nike in one hand, while around shield rests on her left side, and featuring scenes of war from the Battles of the Giants and the Amazons. The original wore a helmet, with two griffins and a sphinx, (Jenkins, p.82) The statue was made around 200-150 BC from Pentelic marble, from Mt. Penteli in Athens and discovered in 1880 among the rubble of the Library of Pergamon. It lacks arms, the left side of the neck and both feet. The Hellenistic statue of Athena wears an attic helmet, while the originals wore decorated helmets.
I will compare the features of this statue with the statue of Diana of the Tower, which was sculpted in the late 19th century by Augustus St. Gaudens which I described in my previous assignments. These two sculptures had similarities as well as stark differences. The statue of Diana is from the neoclassical period while the statue of Athena is from the Hellenistic period. Both these eras of art influenced the sculptors in their work. The statue of Athena was sculpted at the height of the Greek empire’s success, especially after the defeat of the Persians, and this is shown in the posture of the original Athena, as well as depictions of scenes of war at the base and weapons of war such as the shield and spear. The statue of the Pergamon Library was a classical copy of the original version, and therefore it was meant to give the residents of the city some sacred image that was famed throughout the greater Greek Empire, (Cartwright, 2018).
The statue of Diana by Augustus stood as a landmark over New York City, and to Stanford White and the artist, it represented the culture of progress and prosperity especially after the Civil War. In the same breath, both statues were the predominant and most recognized pieces of art and stood as marks of pride, in Athens and New York City respectively. A stark difference between the two statues is in the emotions they cause, especially religiously. In New York City, the statue of Diana elicited sharp reactions from Christians and moral pundits who thought it obscene, while the statue of Athena was revered, almost as the goddess herself.
The statues are different in terms of material used and proportions. Diana of the Tower was originally cast from cement, and later versions made from copper and bronze. The bronze version, which stands at 13 feet, is the surviving outdoor version of the famous sculpture. The first statue of Athena was fashioned in ivory and gold, with a wooden core, while the base was made from solid marble. Later renditions like the Athena of Pergamon were made in solid marble, which is common with the Greek and Roman sculptures of the classical age. Lastly, St. Gaudens was among the most famous American sculptors and one of the fathers of neoclassical sculpture in America. Similarly, Phidias and his sculptures marked a different era and style of ancient Greek sculpture, (Wasson, 2017). Phidias, like St. Gaudens was famous for other famous sculptures, such as the colossal bronze statue of Athena Promachos which was erected on the Acropolis, before he was commissioned by Pericles to create the statue of Athena in all its grandeur and wealth that matched the Greek success in war and wealth of the empire.

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