Nov 07

American – The Price of Architecture

In the United States, around 40 million people currently have student debt. This is a population that is greater than that of many countries. Although, in the last 14 years, the average salary for young people has decreased by 10%, student debt has increaased by almost 500%. For most Americans, getting educated means having a relationship with banks that will last for years. But for young American architects the situation is even worse; The amount of schooling required to be able to practice professionally means taking on a debt that you may be paying for the rest of your life.

archsculptbooks

While the average debt of a US student is $ 29,400, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architecture Students, architecture students graduate with an average of $ 40,000 in loans. Not only does the profession require more time at school, the architecture school is also a notoriously expensive academic experience. On average, an architecture student pays $ 1,117 annually in materials, which after being used to make a model, are often discarded after exams (or in some cases, literally torn by a teacher). In addition, architecture students are expected to pay for software licenses, computers and, now, 3D printing.

In addition, the professional field of architecture often imposes additional burdens on its younger members, as if having to pay monthly bills for the rest of the foreseeable future was not oppressive enough. A common cliché of architecture students is that they have so much work that they have to sleep under their desks; they live and breathe their work. Meanwhile, students who are trained in other fields are encouraged to do part-time work to help alleviate their debt. Even medical students.

Some architectural firms can even apply for unpaid work, often in the form of ‘internships’. As with other forms of exploitation, this has become a cycle perpetuated with the presumption stance: “Since I did, they should also do it.” Today, student debt is nothing short of a crisis. The problem with this logic, beyond being cruel and petty, is that it is false. The problem is further complicated by unclear labor laws and the lack of effective regulation by architectural advisory councils. Student debt increases with enrollment, exceeding salary increases. Link that with the changes in the global economy and an increasing cost of living in general, and the current tension of the student debt contrasts with some decades ago. Today, it is nothing less than a crisis.

Unless the situation changes, the current state of the debt will inevitably have major repercussions in the field of American architecture, particularly in contrast to its counterparts in Europe, Canada and Asia, where education is usually much cheaper, if not completely free (for example, Germany recently made all education completely free, even for international students). In an increasingly globalized field, architects trained outside of the United States simply have less to lose by experimenting with less financially viable models. And experimentation is at the heart of architectural innovation.

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Oct 27

Woodmen Accident and Life Insurance Company

Woodman_Life_1

Woodmen Accident and Life Insurance Company (1953-1955)
1526 K Street, Lincoln, Nebraska
Martin Aitken of David & Wilson, architect
Lawrence Tenney Stevens and Erwin Goeller, sculptors
medium: Indiana limestone

The Protecting Hand!

Part of the story is the location, across the street from the State Capitol, a location that demanded a strong hand. And part of the story is Lawrence Tenney Stevens.

This is a large (27 by 16 ) heavy (200 tons) limestone group for an insurance company. Six family members are nestled in a giant palm. Their nude state was a local problem, and skillfully implied drapery was the solution. Erwin Goeller assisted Stevens in moving this vast amount of stone. Thirty years before, Goeller had worked with Lee Lawrie across the street.

Stevens posed his own four children here. The father was Doug Henson, bodybuilder, Tulsa policeman, and according to one source, the 1952 Mr. America. (That, unfortunately, doesn’t prove out.)

The non-integrated placement of the sculpture on a blank facade is typical of the time, but the human figures, the skilled technical execution and the faint air of comedy here are not typical. Attribute these to Lawrence Tenney Stevens.

Stevens never had shortage of talent. Born in Massachusetts in 1896, in 1922 he was awarded the Prix de Rome, allowing study in Europe and Egypt with Paul Manship. Stevens thought big and foresaw a thoroughly American style but on returning he could not get commissions; he came to Wyoming then Tulsa and Tempe Arizona. His best-known work is the incomparably strange six-animal composite “Woofus” at the 1936 Dallas World’s Fair. Towards the end of his life he cultivated strong political opinions and an old-testament beard.

As to the similarity of Stevens’ style with 1930s fascism, the comparison would have made him furious. In reference to another piece, the architectural historian David Gebhard wrote, “… done by Stevens in the heroic style often associated with Nazi art. Remember that this style was not the product of dictatorship (although Mussolini and Hitler went for it) but a more general movement in the history of taste not completely analyzed.” That’s exactly right.

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Oct 27

Nebraska State Capitol

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Nebraska State Capitol (1922-1932)
1445 K Street, Lincoln, Nebraska
Bertram Goodhue, architect
Lee Lawrie, sculptor
medium: stone

All courses in American architectural history should start here in Lincoln Nebraska, which is just as corn-fed and friendly and Midwestern and flat as your imagination suggests. Lincoln is a capital city and a college town of a decent size, so Lincoln has two centers of gravity a few blocks away from each other.

It’s a profoundly alien building, completely unexpected. You’re expecting maybe a capitol building like all the others, a white dome and two stately wings – no. This is a different shape and different presence entirely. The traditional white-dome-and-stately-wings is a ”container” in shape, you sense that it contains something. The massing of this tower is more dynamic and assertive, the Nebraska State Shaft, particularly in contrast to all the surrounding flatness. It’s a phallus, really, among other things.

Admittedly some people will only detect its kitschy quality and that’s cool enough, but this is a building with a social meaning and Cultic substance, like the Masonic symbols on the back of the dollar, an ‘influencing machine’ that can trigger the fantasies of a paranoid schizophrenic. Look closer, wait around, roll it around on your lobes, and it begins to haunt with its seriousness. It’s the real thing, sincere and disciplined, emerging from a strongly felt responsibility about reflecting and perpetuating social order. The building then hits you over the head with a highly organized and integrated set of figural manifestations, inscriptions, long quotations, admonitions, the names of famous men, friezes and other decorative technique.

It wants to have a word with you.

Oct 27

Masonic Temple, Lincoln

26 MasonicTempleLincoln0

Masonic Temple, Lincoln (1935)
1635 L Street, Lincoln, Nebraska
Edward G. Schaumberg and Harry W Meginnis, architects
sculptor unknown, based on a drawing by Elizabeth Dolan
medium: sandstone

This attractive tan colored sandstone and brick deco building contains a somewhat enigmatic panel over the main entrance showing the three stages in the life of a Mason. It begins on the left with a young adventurous boy, protected by a Guardian Angel, who then grows into a man, shedding his clothes in the process but gaining a team of very rambunctious horses. In the last stage the man, now supported by a cane and accompanied by a winged Babylonian looking lion, gazes off into the future.

The panel is crowned by a shallow pediment containing a sunburst. Bands of deco syled decorative details surround the entrance and can be found elsewhere on the building. They contain images of bee hives, five-pointed stars, compasses and other Masonic esoterica.

Inside the building are 10 murals by local artist Dolan based on Biblical and Masonic themes, each of them six feet square. The Masonic iconography was handled by a Dr. David H. Hilton.

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Oct 27

First-Plymouth Congregational Church

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First-Plymouth Congregational Church (1931)
20th & D Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska
Harold van Buren Magonigle, architect
Angelo Tagliabue, sculptor
medium: terra cotta

The carillon tower carries four integrated sculptures of authors of the four New Testament gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, set into a brick tower. Each figure, if you could call them figures, is about 12 feet tall.

There’s a list of connections here with the Liberty Tower in Kansas City. The design concept, Guardian Spirits on the four edges of a tower, is similar, although much smaller and in brick. The time period and the architect Magonigle are the same. The sculptor Angelo Tagliabue, working for the John Donnelly company, had modeled bronze doors for Magonigle for the Liberty Tower. (We don’t know much about Tagliabue.) And lastly this is Lincoln, the city dominated by the then-new Nebraska State Capitol by Goodhue down the street, Goodhue whose fourth-place competition entry for the Liberty Tower got as much newspaper attention as the winner.

Sculpturally these are in the category of ’emergent figures’, but the torsos of the figures are so geometric that the heads look like afterthoughts, and there are proportion issues. This is an example that reminds you how difficult the successful integration of sculpture and building really is.

Oct 27

Central High School, Omaha

neb02centralhighschool.htm

”’Central High School, Omaha”’ (1912)
124 N 20th Street, Omaha, Nebraska
John Latenser, architect
sculptor unknown
medium: likely marble

A massive Beaux-Arts structure with a sculpted pediment in one wing, atop of set of frothy Corinthian columns, and three acroteria echoed on the cornice. A central allegorical figure (Minerva, possibly) in the pediment presides over reclining readers and painters and other students. The drape of her skirt is an unfortuante focal point, and judging from the date and the wear pattern, the stone is likely marble.

The Liechtenstein-trained architect Latenser, born in 1858, trained in Stuttgart and Chicago and joined later by his sons, was an architectural fixture in Omaha for many years. His landmark New Douglas County Court House in Omaha also has plenty of decorative stonework, but blank pediments.

Oct 27

Joslyn Art Museum

Joclyn Museum

Joslyn Art Museum (1931)
2200 Dodge St, Omaha, Nebraska
John and Alan McDonald, architects
John David Brcin, sculptor
medium: Georgia pink marble

The ”’Joslyn Art Museum”’ was designed and built in 1931 by John and Alan McDonald, with a Moderne re-design performed midway through construction by Omaha architect and teacher Herschel Elarth, and is notable for its exterior sculptural program, executed by artist John David Brcin and devised by Dr. Hartley Burr Alexander. Alexander was riding his brief wave of popularity as iconographer and sculptural coordinator from the success of the Nebraska State Capitol.

The sculptural program includes six doors on the east side of the building, devoted to the personal virtues of George Joslyn, and eight relief panels, half of which are devoted to Native American themes. Brcin’s work here on pink marble is static and highly stylized. Although active as a sculptor, his only other known architectural work is the Henry Horner Memorial in Chicago, from 1948.

Correspondence from the MacDonalds to Alexander complains that some of the Indians are too Jewish-looking.

small 19 Joclyn_Museum_HBA small 14 Joclyn_Museum_2 small 18 Joclyn_Museum_0 small 15 Joclyn_Museum_6 small 17 Joclyn_Museum_3

Oct 27

Omaha Union Station

Omaha Union Station, now the Durham Western Heritage Museum (1931)
801 South 10th Street, Omaha, Nebraska
Gilbert Stanley Underwood, architect
sculptor unknown
medium: terra cotta

Inside, it’s a legitimate shiny Art Deco marvel. Outside, this steel-frame railroad station has elaborate stone screens, sculpted eagles, an inscribed quote from Lincoln, and four not-too-well-modeled emergent railroad worker-figures on the terra cotta facade, identified by their props. On the north side, a conductor holds a lantern, and an engineer holds an oil can, really no more than an etched suggestion. On the south side, there’s a civil engineer and a brakeman, holding a transit and a track wrench respectively. Their heads are fully developed but, unfortunately, here again, there are some aesthetic rough spots, a missed opportunity on such a wonderful station. It wouldn’t be going to far to call these figures half-assed. Would it?

The architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood was known for other railroad work, and for his National Park Lodges.

 

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small 22 ous right

small 23 ous left

Oct 27

Allies and Sources

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Art Deco in Louisville Kentucky? Oh, yes, absolutely. Jim L. Patterson has been busy documenting forgotten Art Deco in his neck of the woods, including public buildings of the 1930s in Columbus and Cincinnati and Nashville, with its selective Deco ornamentation. At the very least check out his Rene Paul Chambellan page for many great photos of the sculptor’s work.
At Texas Escapes editor John Troesser has taken on the task of explaining Texas — luckily, it’s online, allowing for quick changes, because Texas is (as you’ve heard) both on the large side and a moving target. We’re trading information about surprising sculptural work on Texas court houses, Raoul Josset, Pompeo Coppini, and other things.
George Gurney topped our list of researchers to contact; George is the author of a great and thorough book about the architectural sculpture at the Federal Triangle, he happens to be the Chief Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and he’s been friendly, encouraging, and helpful to this project.
Our friend Romy Wyllie has written a new book about Bertram Goodhue. If the world were run properly Goodhue would be known as America’s greatest architect of the 20th Century (and by the way a central figure in our work). Don’t believe it? Too obscure? Let Romy convince you.

Oct 27

The Authors

21 einar

Einar Einarsson Kvaran, “art historian without portfolio,” has been photographing and writing on architectural sculpture for some 25 years, including two decades of original research into his favorite architectural sculptor, Corrado Parducci. Einar lives, works, and maintains his formidable library in Dixon, New Mexico.

 

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22 walt

 

Walt Lockley was born in Texas, educated from the back seat of a 1972 Buick Riviera criss-crossing the continent, and thinks architecture is dangerous, sexy and a Big Deal. He’s appeared in Cosmopolitan and the L.A. Times, and writes for Desert Living. Walt lives in Scottsdale; his work on disappearing mid-century modern in Phoenix, and other architectural curiosities

Oct 27

The Market for This Book

As part of the effort to find the right publisher for the Field Guide, we’re identifying potential markets and channels for the book in the real world. The market has a practical bearing on the scope and content we’ll be able to include. These are our results so far — this is an ongoing effort.

If you’re an individual interested in the book, please take a moment to send us an email at kvaranandlockley (a t) gmail.com and express your interest. We’d appreciate your message.

12 Greco Deco use

Universities, university libraries, students, other scholarly markets

This Field Guide is the first-ever survey of its kind, academically important, with the intention of becoming the standard reference.

Our book documents an architectural and cultural phenomenon in the United States. This body of work is significant in itself for the artistic quality of the sculpture, for the well-known architects and sculptors involved and its pattern of long-term collaborations. It chronicles the daunting aesthetic and practical challenges of integrating sculpture and architecture successfully, reveals the sheer size of the industry at its zenith and follows its stylistic evolution from imitation of European models in the 1870s to a truly American art form by the 1920s.

The phenomenon is even more important to explore and understand because it contradicts the prevalent belief about American architecture before Modernism — namely, that all “ornament” was unnecessary and vaguely distasteful, and that only the precursors of the Modernist tradition like Wright and Sullivan are worth our attention.

This attitude about ornament was taught for decades and, unfortunately, it persists.

The Guide will catalog the power, sophistication and beauty of architectural sculpture in a way that can’t be argued away. We want the book to inform the ongoing debate about the legacy of Modernism and Postmodernism, without getting tangled in the terms of that debate. That’s what will make the Field Guide relevant and suitable as a textbook.

 Iannelli at Woodbury CCH

Architectural Tourism

Architectural tourism is already a healthy and well-defined market with permanent retail shops in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and growing into a significant market in other cities from Pittsburgh to Tulsa to Seattle.

For interested individuals, the value of the Field Guide in planning trips and exploring history is obvious.

For tour operators, the Field Guide will be useful to identify local buildings worth talking about, and to fill out narratives of local buildings they already talk about — for instance, connecting Hermon MacNeil’s bronze Native Americans in the Marquette Building in Chicago with his marriage to a White Rabbit, and the high point of his career, the pediment at the Supreme Court Building. This book will tend to build business for those operators, and they are potential marketing partners.

A considerable number of the buildings in our survey have gift shops of their own: the Biltmore in Asheville, Rockefeller Center, 19 state capitols, 19 colleges and universities, and 27 museums, just as a quick tally. These 67 retail outlets are all likely to carry the book.

Preservationists

Closely related to architectural tourism are the state and local organizations and national interest groups for historic preservation. The Field Guide will help them assess their local resources and help their advocacy efforts. These organizations include the American Institute for Conservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Institute of Architects, ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), the Society of Architectural Historians, and others.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The Field Guide addresses an overlooked and fascinating chapter in FLW’s long career, a chapter that touches on his mysterious European tour with Mamah Cheney, one of the few cases where FLW admitted an influence (from the German sculptor Franz Metzner), one of the very few periods where FLW credited a collaborator as an equal (with the American sculptor Richard Bock) and integrated the human figure in seven of his buildings.

That number includes the razed Midway Gardens project in Chicago, source of the famous Sprites, which are exactly what they look like: an experimental attempt to reduce the human figure to geometric solids, and therefore reconcile human shape and architectural shape.

There’s already a significant and reachable number of fans with an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright.

Sculptors and Collectors

One of the buildings in our book, the Barclay-Vesey Building in Lower Manhattan, designed by architect Ralph Walker in 1926, was heavily damaged in the attacks of 9/11. Walker had developed a unique ornamental vocabulary, and sculptor Ulysses Ricci executed it in Indiana limestone. Modern stoneworkers and the Petrillo Stone Company of Mount Vernon New York have carefully recreated Ricci’s stone work.

The numbers of these artisans are relatively small, but there is a market segment of modern stoneworkers, heritage companies like Gladding McBean, architectural offices, and sculptors who will look to the book as a sort of catalog or pattern book. Most of the sculptors in the Field Guide were members of the National Sculpture Society, an organization with a natural interest in the book. They may also be willing to engage in cooperative marketing.

More numerous are collectors who may own standalone pieces by Donal Hord or Lawrence Tenney Stevens, say. Those pieces will possibly increase in value with increased attention, understanding and publicity brought to these lesser-known artists.This may overstate our influence, it sounds a bit of a long shot, but on the other hand it’s possible that the increased value brought to a single piece of artwork might exceed the entire budget of this book. Owners of work by the sculptors represented in our book comprise another interested audience and potential market.

Oct 27

Samples (Nebraska)

Woodman_Life_1

You might think that architectural sculpture in America would be concentrated in New York, Washington, Chicago, Detroit. That’s right, much of it is. Largely rural, beautiful in ways urban centers can never be, the state of Nebraska would not seem to be an interesting or fruitful place to look for architectural sculpture.

But we chose Nebraska for an online sample of the Field Guide because there’s a surprising depth here, including one of the most sophisticated and elaborate examples in the entire country.

These seven examples provide a flavor of what you can find even in the least likely places.

Oct 27

Scope, Shape, Contents

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Scope, Shape, Contents

40 Ann_Arbor_News_06 science

Scope

In geographic scope the Field Guide will cover the United States. As you’d expect, most architectural sculpture appears in New York and Washington D.C., but there is significant and valuable regional work, and the Nebraska samples on this website demonstrate great stuff in apparently-unlikely places. Most, but not all, of the work happens between 1870 and 1940.

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Shape

The Field Guide will serve two basic markets.

For architectural tourists and general readers, it will tell the stories of specific buildings in Nashville, or Denver, or Cleveland, for those planning trips, and also put those buildings into a broader national context and a better understanding of who did this work, when, and why. So it must be engagingly written, easy to navigate, and designed for easy cross-referencing.

For people in the architectural field, ranging from architectural historians and critics to students and local preservationists, it will be the first-ever survey of its kind, with the potential to become a standard reference. So it must be sourced, indexed, written in a balanced way, teachable, and academically valuable.

To serve both of these markets, we expecte the Field Guide to take this shape:

– An interpretive introduction, providing an overview of the whole field, a guide to stylistic development by decade, a description of the day-to-day workings of this vanished industry, and how architectural and sculpture fits together (and sometimes doesn’t)

– The body of the book, arranged geographically, with entries for individual buildings, similar to the samples here

– Miniature biographies of the sculptors (see the list below) with their work cross-referenced

– Above everything, it has to be well illustrated

39 Ann_Arbor_News_5 printing

Contents

We have too much material to fit into one volume. We’ve gotten the advice, good advice we think, that the publisher will guide the final contents of the book. So this is one alternative:

A book of about 110,000 words.

The introduction would be about 12,000 words, 10% to 12% of the total.

We’ve identified about 700 buildings coast-to-coast for individual entries. Assuming we pare this number to the 250 best-and-most-entertaining buildings across the country, and budget 80,000 words for the bulk of the book, that’s 320 words per entry. Some would need fewer. Some, like the U.S. Custom House in New York City, would need more. For instance, this description of the Woodmens Accident Building in Omaha comes in just at 324. Obviously there’s a balance to be struck between depth and breadth.

This leaves another 18,000 words for the biographies of the sculptors and, importantly, the lists of their major commissions.

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Illustrations

We have over 1000 original documentary photographs at our disposal for this project, with other sources at hand. There’s also room for diagrams that explain some of the design decisions, the entertaining terminology (spandrels, tympani, tondi, acroteria, pediments, friezes, caryatids, telemons, finials), and images like this one, for the LeVeque Tower in Columbus, Ohio:

LeVeque Tower public domain

We’d like to consider a Bonus CD, tucked into a sleeve in the back cover, to allow including more photographs and illustrations than can be economically printed in color.

Our legal research tells us all these photographs are derivative works of publically accessible artwork. Even if the sculptural works are copyrighted, which was not common practice until the 1960s or 1970s, their photographic depiction in a scholarly work is covered under the fair use exception. Such reproduction will tend to promote, not undermine, the value of the sculptural artwork.

 AnnArbor_News_8 art

Sculptors

This is a partial list of the architectural sculptors and carvers whose work we discuss. Only a few of these names are well-known. Maybe five. But our Field Guide will show which of these names were important architectural sculptors, and where their work can be found.

Robert Aitken
Herbert Adams
Edmond Amateis
Louis Amateis
John Angel

Henry Kirke Bush-Brown
Richard Bock
Oscar Bach
Theodore Barbarossa
George Grey Barnard
Clement Barnhorn
Barth and Staak
Paul Wayland Bartlett
Theodore Baur
Karl Bitter
Gutzon Borglum
John David Brcin
George T. Brewster
Caspar Buberl

Rene Paul Chambellan
Samuel Cashwan
Alexander Milne Calder
Alexander Stirling Calder
Herring Coe
Joseph Coletti
Joseph Conradi

 

Pompeo Coppini
Kenyon Cox

John Donoghue
Donald De Lue
Guiseppe Donato
John Donnelly

Ellin and Kitson
Ulric Ellerhusen
Frank Edwin Elwell
John Evans

Leo Friedlander
James Earle Fraser
Fischer & Jirouch
Gladys Caldwell Fisher
John Flanagan
Laura Gardin Fraser
Marshall Fredericks
Daniel Chester French
Sherry Fry

Robert Garrison
Merrell Gage

 

Charles Grafly
John Garatti
Archibald Garner
Boris Gilbertson
Erwin Goeller
Angela Gregory
John Gregory

Walker Hancock
Leon Hermant
Henry Hering
Benjamin Hawkins
Julian Hoke Harris
Ernest Haswell
Donal Hord
Milton Horn

Alfonso Iannelli

Albert Jaegers
Augustine Jaegers
C. Paul Jennewein
Raoul Josset
Sylvia Shaw Judson

Isidore Konti
Charles Keck
Joseph Kiselewski
Maxfield Keck
Roy E. King
Henry Kreis
Kristian Schneider

Gaston Lachaise
Michael Lantz
Lee Lawrie
Leo Lentelli
Henry Augustus Lukeman
Gwen Lux

Alvin Meyer
Philip Martiny
Ivan Meštrovic’
Frederick MacMonnies
Hermon Atkins MacNeil
Bartolo Mako
Paul Manship
Herman Matzen
Albert McIlveen
William McVey
Hildreth Meiere
Carl Milles
Bruce Moore
Jo Mora

 

Domingo Mora

Charles Niehaus

Andrew O’Connor

Attilio Piccirilli
Piccirilli Brothers
Rudolph Parducci
Corrado Parducci
Haig Patigian
Roland Hinton Perry
Albin Polasek
Edward Clark Potter
Bela Pratt
Dudley Pratt
A. Phimister Proctor

Edmond Quinn

J. Massey Rhind
Julian Lee Rayford
Ulysses Ricci
Eliseo Ricci
Frederick Roth
Frederick Wellington Ruckstull

Albert Stewart
Salvatore Cartaino Scarpitta
Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Louis Saint-Gaudens
Phillips Sanderson
Edward Sanford
Armin A. Scheler
Carl Schmitz
Louis Slobodkin
Ralph Stackpole
Lawrence Tenney Stevens
John H. Storrs

Lorado Taft
Francois Tonetti
Mary Lawrence Tonetti
Fred M. Torrey

Adolph Alexander Weinman
Olin Levi Warner
Nellie Walker
Edgar Walter
Heinz Warneke
J.Q.A. Ward
Sidney Waugh
White Rabbits
Whyte and Priest
Wheeler Williams

William Zorach
Bruno Louis Zimm
Emil Zettler

Oct 27

Joslyn Sculpt

Joslyn Art Museum

Ganesha, I8th c. marble sculpture, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha

Indian, Madhya Pradesh, Dancing Ganesha

Indian, Madhya Pradesh, Dancing Ganesha

Ganesha

A concrete statue of Sri Ganesha drying in the studio, India

GANESHA

ANTIQUE BRONZE HINDU MULTI-ARMED SEATED DEITY GANESHA, TEMPLE BLESS. 18/19th C

Sri Ganesha

Sri Ganesha

Indian-handicrafts

Asian Art dealers – Indian handicrafts

 the Stone Namaste Ganesh Statue 26

the Stone Namaste Ganesh Statue 26

Obstacles

Eight Armed Dancing God Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles..
Utter Pardesh, India
10th century/ Sandstone..

Oct 27

Why This Book is Important

The book will be a Field Guide to Architectural Sculpture in America, a survey and discussion of buildings across the country. This research has never been attempted before.

Even leaving out gargoyles, memorials and cemetery work, for another day, our research has found a wealth of material, 1000 American buildings with significant sculpture. They range from the very elaborate well-known examples like Rockefeller Center, the Louisiana State Capitol and the Federal Triangle in Washington, to astonishing folk-art bas-reliefs on rural county courthouses. From the well-known to the forgotten.
But this book will have both widespread commercial potential and academic importance, and we intend to create a work that will be the standard for years to come.

milwaukee Eagles_Club_3

Why is this important?

– Because this sculptural work is beautiful. That’s the first argument, the inherent visual appeal of this gorgeous, mysterious, deeply odd work. The photographs on this site provide just a taste. We have more than 1000 original photographs available for the project.

– Because it’s an American story. The history of architectural sculpture in America is a well-rounded narrative, beginning around 1870, taking off from Chicago in 1893, then leading to a Golden Age, often referred to as “The American Renaissance.” This includes a period of popularity and transition and innovation through the 1910’s that leads to brilliant stylistic evolution and experimentation during the “Roaring 20s”. And, then there’s a definite and sad ending, around 1940.

– Because there is social history coded into these sculptures. They are so expressive and so honest that they accidentally reveal entire systems of cultural values and assumptions. Some of it’s charming, some ugly. You see World War I treated as holy sacrifice; powerful fraternal organizations like the Elks and Knights of Pythias and the Native Sons of the Golden West; fin de siecle Worlds’ Fairs and their spectacular displays of architecture-as-popular entertainment; racist scientism and stereotyping, escapes into exoticism, brave experiments in American Socialism in the 1930s, and a great deal of allegorical seriousness utilizing brave-looking young women from 15 to 25 years old, with good shoulders, temporary called “Liberty,” “Thrift,” “Justice,” blind or otherwise and “Truth,’ mostly presented as “Naked Truth.”

– Because there’s nudity.

PhillyUSPO3

– Because the sculptors and carvers have their own stories. Even the leading architectural sculptors, Lee Lawrie and Karl Bitter and Rene Paul Chambellan, celebrities in their day, are now forgotten. Some of the most evocative work was done by immigrant carvers, anonymous then, doubly forgotten now. Reconciling the biomorphic human figure with the rectilinear architectural frame was a tough trick. We give new attention and respect to their lives and work.

– Because, in the context of American architectural history, this book is a gleeful dangerous act of revisionism. As Modernism continues to struggle with its legacy, this is a good, long, lingering juicy bite of the forbidden fruit, the “crime of ornamentation.”

While the slogan “Less is More” is still frequently heard, the authors are unashamedly offering a “More is More” point of view. If integrating sculpture with architecture was a crime, the best American architects of three generations were criminals who mentored and formed long-term collaborations with sculptors, snatched talent straight from Ellis Island, and kept them on the payroll. These criminalsinclude Richard Morris Hunt, H.H. Richardson, George Browne Post, Cass Gilbert, Warren & Wetmore, Cram & Goodhue (together and separately), Holabird & Root, Albert Kahn, Cross & Cross, Walker & Eisen, Raymond Hood, Wirt C. Rowland, and Paul Cret. Not to mention Louis Sullivan, the world’s champion ornamentalist of his day, or the special case of Frank Lloyd Wright, who had a fascinating Transatlantic flirtation with integrating the human figure into his work.

– Because this history sheds light on the old idea that buildings have emotionally expressive potential — that buildings can communicate — and, separately, the old idea that buildings should be supportive and humane to their users – that users matter.

– Because we are wrecking our cultural heritage through ignorance. Urban renewal, starting in the 1950s and continuing under various names today, is still indiscriminately knocking down old buildings. These glorious monuments from our past are still being removed from our public spaces, often replaced by dehumanizing, impersonal structures totally out of scale with humans, or worse, replaced by parking lots. For this reason we include razed structures in the survey. We are also locating and highlighting demolished buildings from which sculptural elements have been saved and preserved.

– Because an illustrated survey of this important American art form has never been done before, and nobody has seen its full range and depth and occasional brilliance.

– Because it’s carved in stone.

gwen lux mcgraw hill

Oct 27

Omaha Union Station Picture

Union Station in Omaha, Nebraska, as of now utilized as an exhibition hall, has been reestablished to its previous radiance. The station was given by Union Pacific Railroad to the city of Omaha in 1971. Both the inside and outside are grand.

omaha union station

 

omaha union station

omaha union station

omaha union station

omaha union station

Oct 27

How You Can Help

09 PhilMusArtPed32

If you’re interested in this project, interested in a specific bit of sculpture or photograph here, if you’re possibly interested in buying a copy of the field guide when it comes out, please take the time to drop us an email.

We’re collecting the responses to demonstrate the size of the potential market. Your email won’t be used or misued for any other purpose, and it doesn’t commit you to anything.

We need your feedback. Please let us hear from you at:

kvaranandlockley (a t) gmail.com

For more in the meantime, Einar has started a blog, and you can find it here.

We appreciate your support and welcome your suggestions.

stuyvestant polyclinic

Oct 27

A Field Guide to Architectural Sculpture in America

05 big lee lawrie los angeles public library

This website describes an upcoming book called

By Einar Einarsson Kvaran and Walt Lockley. This book will guide readers through the examples, histories, techniques, and social context of architectural sculpture, across the United States, and the stories of the sculptors and carvers who spent their blood, sweat and tears creating it.

There’s plenty to talk about.

Our aim is to be both user-friendly and academically suitable, so the guide will be equally useful for architectural tourists, students and scholars, and anybody interested in a certain building, a certain sculptor, or big chunk of forgotten American social history. Or people who look at the pictures. That’s okay too.

02 big Buffalo City Hall

This sculptural work was always meant to be beautiful, in the ordinary way, so it’s inherently appealing just to look at.

There’s something else to it, though. Some of it feels deeply right, some of it’s uncomfortably wrong. It’s all mysterious-beautiful in a way that defies explanation. Since you’re already at this website, you probably already understand what we’re talking about.

03 big Pompeo_coppini_at_express-news_bldg_san_antonio

This story has not been told before.

Even the leading architectural sculptors, Lee Lawrie and Karl Bitter and Rene Paul Chambellan, relatively famous in their day, are now forgotten. Some of the most evocative work was done by immigrant carvers, anonymous then and doubly forgotten now.

When Modernism attained its icy grip on the profession in 1935 or so, the entire industry not only vanished, its history was actively suppressed by an architectural establishment that didn’t want to look back.

The work they left behind is amazing. Much of it is deeply strange. We want to show it to you.

For more in the meantime, Einar has started a blog, and you can find it here.