Test your Design IQ

() - September 10, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Who is the American artist and sculptor famous for his public art works like the monumental US presidents’ heads at Mount Rushmore and the famous carving on Stone Mountain?

He was born in 1867 in St. Charles, Idaho to Danish immigrants, raised in California and trained in Paris at the Academie Julian, where he came to know Auguste Rodin and was influenced by Rodin’s dynamic impressionistic light-catching surfaces.

Back in New York, he sculpted about a hundred saints and apostles for the new Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in 1901, got a sculpture accepted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was the first sculpture by a living American the museum had ever purchased, and soon, with some well-placed portraits, he had a national reputation.

A fascination with gigantic scale and themes of heroic nationalism suited his extroverted personality. His head of Abraham Lincoln, carved from a six-ton block of marble, was exhibited in Theodore Roosevelt’s White House and can be found in the Capital Rotunda in Washington, DC.

A patriot that believed that “the monuments we have built are not our own,” he sought to create art that was “American, drawn from American sources, memorializing American achievement.”

His equation of being “American” with being born of American parents was characteristic of the Nativist beliefs in the early 20th century. He was highly-suited to the competitive environment surrounding the contacts for public buildings and monuments, and his public sculpture can be found all around the US.

In 1915, he was approached by the United Daughters of the Confederacy with a project for sculpting a 70-foot statue of General Robert E. Lee on Stone Mountain’s rock face. He accepted, but convinced them that a 70-foot carving of Lee at Stone Mountain would look like a postage stamp on the side of a barn.  His ideas eventually evolved into a high relief frieze of Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson riding around the mountain followed by a legion of artillery troops.  While the project was beset with problems, and none of the work remains today, it was through this project that he developed necessary techniques for sculpting on a gigantic scale that made Mount Rushmore possible.

The Mount Rushmore project was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson. The initial pair of presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, was soon joined by Thomas Jefferson for the monument sited in the sacred Native American heartland of the Lousiana Purchase and to make the theme of Manifest Destiny perfectly clear, Theodore Roosevelt.

   His other works include “Aviator,” completed in 1919 as a memorial for James R. McConnell, who was killed in World War I; the North Carolina state monument at the Gettysburg Battlefied in south central Pennsylvania; as well as four public works in Newark, New Jersey: “Seated Lincoln,” “Indian and Puritan,” “Wars of American,” and a bas-relief, “First Landing Party of the Founders of Newark.”

He died in Chicago on March 6, 1941 following complications after surgery.

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Text your answer to 0917-9498721 with your name and address. One winner will be chosen through a raffle of texts with the correct answer. The winner will receive P2,000 worth of SM gift certificates for use at Our Home, Sm Department Store, or SM Supermarket. They can claim their prize at Our Home in SM Megamall. Call the store manager at 634-1950, 634-1943. Bring photocopies of two valid IDs and a clipping of the Design Quiz issue in which you appear as a winner.

Last week’s question: Who is the American architect whose works include the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills, the Bronx Developmental Center in New York, and The Atheneum in Indiana?

Answer: Richard Meier

Winner: Wilfred Ariel Agbulos of Kamias, QC.

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