Skip to main content

tv   Grant Memorial  CSPAN  November 15, 2015 9:00am-9:51am EST

9:00 am
candidates, speeches, debates, and most importantly, your questions. this year, we are taking our road to the white house coverage into classrooms across the country with our student cam contest, giving students the opportunity to discuss what opportunities they want to hear about the most from the candidates. follow c-span's student jam contest and road to the white house 2016 on the radio and online. located by the u.s. capitol reflecting pool at the base of capitol hill, the ulysses s grant memorial was dedicated in 1922. hundreds of elderly civil war veterans attended the ceremony. next, architect of the capitol, talksr michele cohen about the construction of the memorial and the attempts to
9:01 am
restore the bronze sculpture and marble pedestal. this event is a little under 50 minutes. [applause] thank you very much for inviting me. i am hoping that you will come away with mental images. the color will not be visible in these images. i hope it will inspire you to of thepersonal tour grant when it is unveiled when we are finished with the conservation. if you have questions about the images, please speak up. i conceived this as a visual presentation. i did not go about it by writing a formal paper, i thought it would be more exciting and engaging to think about it in a visual way. my digital aid is not working as
9:02 am
well as i would like. that said, ok. sorry about that. on april 27, 1922, the centennial of ulysses s. grant's birthday, the grant memorial, and architect edward casey, was dedicated at the foot of the capital. that are all offices were closed and visitors gather to watch the military parade that made its way down pennsylvania avenue from the white house to the memorial. thousands of military men participated, including hundreds of civil war veterans, even former confederate soldiers. at the time of the unveiling, critics celebrated the memorial, considered to be one of washington, d.c.'s most
9:03 am
masterful sculptures. of over 500 open air sculptures, the grant memorial still ranks among the city's best. in 2000 11, the national park service transferred responsibility for care of the grant memorial to the architect of the capitol. in the spring of 2015 they launched the current conservation project. i will provide an overview of the conservation, and i see this as an opportunity to re-examine the monument's history, meaning, and the role it plays in reshaping the symbolic space of the capital. situated in what we now refer to as union square, at the edge of the reflecting pool against the backdrop of the united states capital, the bronze and marble
9:04 am
ulysses s. grant memorial honors the commander of the union army and the two-term president. it is the eastern terminus of the national mall and faces the lincoln memorial, almost two miles to the west, symbolically linking the president and general who fought to save the union. one thing i learned, that i was not really cognizant of, was both of these memorials are dedicated in the same year a month apart in 1922. in april of that year the grant was dedicated. later, i name a, the lincoln was dedicated. may, the lincoln was dedicated. now, it was about national unity after the civil war.
9:05 am
the overall form of the memorial can be compared to an outdoor room. 71 feet wide and 44 feet high. i wonder about these dimensions, because i have not measured it. it is the second largest equestrian monument in the world . the architect perhaps does not get enough credit for the conception of this memorial. he really did create an architectural setting intended to function as the reviewing stand and stage. as it appears after several redesigns of union plaza, it is a plaza overlaid on a plaza. it creates a unified setting for the 4 main sculptural groupings.
9:06 am
this is not my day. well, it worked before. ok, thanks. nope. we will try another one. ok. all right, thanks. thank you. this is the central equestrian statue of grant, then there are ons.cumbent li then you have the calvary and artillery. calvary, which are grouped to the north and south respectively. subconcept sculptural on and the 4 lions enormous equestrian of general
9:07 am
grant. i'm sorry about this. notice this image on the bottom. to caption that is difficult read is "aerial view from the northwest showing the grant memorial shortly after completion on the former site of the block tannic gardens." we forget with this site originally looks like. here's the grant memorial soon after it was installed. to call thisard larger site union square. ,t is very much like a park reflecting its origin at the book tannic gardens. -- as the buck tentacle gardens. it is -- as the buck tentacle nicalns -- the boctab
9:08 am
gardens. the idea that it was the centerpiece of union square was more conceptual, i would argue, then a physical reality. there,son it was placed that was not the original location, was really because of 2 two converging goals. the macmillan plan and the grant memorial commission came together and decided that this site, which was conceived as union square, with the of the ideal location. originally, the idea was a ,entral equestrian of grant which is here, flanked by 2 of his generals, sherman and shared in -- and sharadon. around thercels
9:09 am
central equestrian. this never happened. what did happen, i think the artist conceiving the monument were inspired and aware of the original idea. the fact that the grant memorial consists of three primary parts, equestrian artillery and calvary, is very much an outcome of understanding what the original concept was for union square. after the grant memorial was installed, it was joined by another monument honoring another union general, general meade. that this is no longer in the original location, which would extend off of the screen. the area where the reflecting pull is now. is now.cting pool that would have written forced union squarehat
9:10 am
was and what it meant after the civil war. just piecemeal, and i don't think that most viewers made an association between the general need and general grant. it was relocated when the reflecting pool was redesigned. i think we would all agree that the grant memorial is a remarkable achievement. by sculptor with little formal training. it took 20 years to translate his vision into bronze. a 2.5 times life-size grant on his horse toward the monument's apex. on a pedestal over 22 feet high. 4 recumbent lions. he came up with 2 designs of the
9:11 am
, and they are paired in the diagonals. these two and these two are identical, marking the corners .f an imaginary pyramid marking the calvary to the north and the artillery to the south. you cannot really see the other they are complementary. they encircle the end groups and viewers to sit close to the monument and get lost in the action. the viewers are sitting in the front row of a movie theater. realistic details at high level including uniforms, terrain, battle debris, horse musculature , and the faces of individual soldiers seen with authenticity. the monument is an essay in
9:12 am
offices, contrasting the stillness of grant as he surveyed the battle, and the turbulence of the charging calvary and alternatively. .- and artillery who were at designers behind the memorial? shady was only 31 years old. how was he selected? it is an interesting story. how sometimes an artist's idea is so captivating that the jury will go with the idea, even if the person is untried and does not have a long track record behind him. started in columbia, had gone to law school and never completed it. he took up sculpting at the time that he was recovering from an illness. to model animals. he was always interested in
9:13 am
drawing, painting, and its culture, but he was steered in another direction. his first opportunity to do something monumental was under the two layers of -- that ted alledge of charles better. smaller pieces and invited him to enlarge them for the expedition. he probably gave him the most training he was ever going to get, the most mentoring from a professional artist. shortly thereafter he won the commission to create an equestrian portrait of george washington for the brooklyn bridge. that was not even finished at the time he was awarded the grant commission. his collaborator, edward casey, was a more experienced partner. he was trained in paris. replaced the
9:14 am
architect of the library of congress. his father was the engineer who completed the washington monument. he had a lot of credibility in terms of the partnership. to give you an understanding of dyw remarkable it is that shra was selected i want to show you his early work. these are the kinds of things that he was doing. much more in the vein of french sculpture. he created small renditions of these. his first opportunity to do something monumental was taking two of these that were enlarged for the expedition that he worked on with bitter. he is coming from a very different orientation and sensibility.
9:15 am
he had also done a sculpture of a battery moving into action. the concept he had for the artillery came from an idea that he worked on earlier as well. this is to show you with the george washington looked like that he completed in new york. the way he approached this monument was to start with the most easily obtainable elements. he began with the lions. he was used to scope thing animals. that was his comfort zone. lions.ted modeling the i don't think he realized he
9:16 am
would be another 20 years before the monument would be finished, and in reality was not finish during his lifetime. he died two weeks before the dedication in 1922. he had a contract that originally said he would be finished in five years, it was signed in 1903. he was supposed to deliver the monument in 1908. 10 extensions. he argued, i am creating 20 monuments for you. look at the figures. my output exceeds what most sculptors would accomplish in 20 years. one thing i want to show you is he signed all of these different elements as he completed them. of this easeage now that it has been cleaned, you can notice a differential. he signed it over here. here is the lion from the front.
9:17 am
and here is another view from the side. the other thing that was interesting was his conception. in many ways it is close to the original model that was juxtaposed when i showed you the 2 images. that model, he really stuck to it. he didn't make dramatic changes as the project evolved. he did change the lions. he wrote in a letter that the one in the sketch was snarling, which i thought could be improved. morented them to be a heroic and contemplative element. not to reinforce the idea of -- to reinforce the idea of grant to was still -- of grant who was still. then the artillery.
9:18 am
them steering a cannon into position. to develop both the artillery and calvary, he anticipated in field maneuvers. he was so committed to naturalism that he needed to experience it. it was not only from the point of view of being an observer. he had to understand what it felt like. he borrowed uniforms and equipment from the war department. he was a member of the national guard and made many trips to west point where he observed battle maneuvers in action. he studied everything intently and strove for authenticity. a 1913xplained in letter, he was an artist forest. he said "i have a perfect right
9:19 am
to put the flag anyway i pleased to make a beautiful line to composition." that is part of what makes this a remarkable sculpture. although it has so many realistic details that we recognizable,as almost as if they are fact, he subordinates it to the overall motion and spirit, intent, of the piece. it never looks stuffy. , and inle to balance some ways seems to be conflicting, the desire to be real, yet convey the psychological depth. when the artillery was cast it was the largest to be cast in the united states. another thing to remember is
9:20 am
that it was not only an artistic feat. it was also technological. he worked closely with a foundry in brooklyn, and had to engineer how he was going to create the different parts, and how they would be connected. how would you create the lows, how would you make the bronze? there was a lot of engineering associated with it. one inspiration was frederic remington and his very well known coming through the right -- coming through the rye. you can see that many of the horses are elevated as though they are floating. there had to be a way to connect , some sort of structural connection, for the piece to be cast. applied the same logic and
9:21 am
approach for casting objects, particularly the artillery in the grand memorial. next came the calvary. he completed the modeling in 1915 and it was installed the following year. he modeled several elements multiple times, never being satisfied with either the particular horses or the configuration of the group. he added 2 additional horses and der about to be crushed, modeled on himself. the seven horsemen of the color squad of the calvary regiment are seen going into battle. they are equipped with weapons. it is a riveting digital narrative. beinge see the grand the equestrian statue,
9:22 am
finally being wasted into position. it was completed in 1919. until 1921.nstalled it took six weeks to actually place it on the pedestal. it came in peices. i've seen images where the torso and part of the horse is severed from the bottom of the horse. it was an amazing sight to see this being brought through the streets of washington, d.c. to the site. hadonnection to grant a personal aspect. his father was a physician, one of the primary physicians that treated grand during his last illness. that relationship gave shrady th grant theghts of
9:23 am
man. consulted the death mask of grant in the smithsonian. in the low relief infantry panels for the pedestal, shrady was unable to complete them. he had done statues, but they were not fully articulated developed sketches. theassistant carried out completion of the infantry panels. they were installed in 1924, two years after the grand memorial was dedicated. there are quite a few letters from shrady's wife who pleaded with the committee and to said, please, eliminate the infantry panels. my husband felt they would detract from the overall memorial.
9:24 am
i beg you, let's eliminate them. they were committed to having the full conception realized. them, youk closely at can really see the quality of sameasting is not at the level as the quality of the casting and other parts of the monument. how do they get this? what was the process? when you look at public art, you wonder who was on the committee that selected the artist? thatre the other artists submitted designs? what were the competition parameters? when you ask those questions, you start to understand the intent of the memorial and the artistic intent of the artists selected. as you look at this competition, you also discover him and just
9:25 am
like any other public art project, this one did not escape controversy. the first occurred over the site . it was not so much that it was going to be placed in the new idea of union square, the problem was at the time it was the botanic hardens and there locatedmemorative trees in the location where the grant was supposed to go. there were major -- it was an outcry. how can you remove these trees? the trees themselves are commemorating the civil war. that had to be resolved. in the end, 3 trees were relocated. i would like to confirm if they are still alive. i'm not sure. that controversy died down after 8 months. the first controversy was at the time of the competition.
9:26 am
there were 23 artists that submitted 27 designs. the least well-known got the commission. a lot of artists questioned the integrity of the panel. they decided to have another round and have the 2 runners-up do a more detailed markup of the central equestrian statue. see, thepe you can other finalist was a more senior artist and had done many public projects. he was well known in the field of american sculpture. then you have shrady, a more modest conception below. in the end shrady and casey prevailed. they were select it. -- they were selected, the largest federal commission to date.
9:27 am
$250,000 was what congress authorized for the funding of the monument. of course artists wanted the commission. it was an enormous coo to be selected the artist. stipulation,esting the artist had to be an american citizen, and all of these quilting and casting must take place on american soil. time many were working abroad or casting pieces in munich or paris. that was a technological constraint that the commission placed on the competition. certainly, shrady came through. competitors,ther and there are some photographic documents, photographic documentation, of the other models on display at the
9:28 am
corcoran art gallery. for the most part, artists were thinking more allegorically. they were thinking about the unification of the country post civil war. the memorialthat would convey the idea of after the end of the civil war and the reestablishment of the union. shrady came at this from a different angle. emerges, for me anyway, how is it that this graphic depiction of men in battle was accepted? feeling,this inflame upset the american public? ?ouldn't this open old wounds
9:29 am
we don't see an enemy. the focus is on the individual soldiers and their inner psychology. they're rushing toward the center supporting grant. the monument, as a whole, consummates a team effort. themonument, placed in center of union square, facing lincoln across the mall, was meant to convey the idea of unification after the civil war -- wouldn't these graphic images of men in battle open old wounds? how was the american public ready to accept this? in searching for a better understanding of the grand memorial, i read a dissertation written in 1987. he makes a convincing argument that in many ways the grand memorial was more about what was
9:30 am
happening in america than actually about the civil war. it was important to show that had this -- war preparedness this was an important concept. in a fascinating book, "monument wars: washington, d.c. and the transformation of the landscape" reinforces the idea that monuments are more about the president then the event a are commemorating. , at the beginning of the 20th century, taste increasingly commanded monuments of the civil war contain figures that are recognizably american, in facial and physical appearance, but true to the american spirit. that spirit was one inviting strength, and a willingness to sacrifice one's life in service to the nation.
9:31 am
when you look at this monument and explore it visually, you realize it is so much about the ,ndividual experiencing pain suffering, depending on the soldier next to him for survival . confronting almost inner, but having a determination to move forward. i cannot help but think about how this monument was received in 1922, 4 years after the end of world war i. the grand memorial, as shrady conceived it, transcends its historical specificity. it may have the trappings of civil war uniforms and weaponry, but the focus on the individual soldiers really makes it about
9:32 am
men in battle at any time. ways, his depiction is more real than an actual photograph. for those of you, it may be difficult to see the caption, the photograph on the right is a battery going into action in fredericksburg taken 1862. the grandbout memorial, it is important to consider memorials that were already completed honoring grant . they focus on his service as a military figure, not a statesman. i want to show you where some of the monuments were and who created them. this is in st. louis. then chicago.
9:33 am
this is by robert greene hearst. ,hese are more regional artists not the artists with national reputations. in new york we have grants tomb in manhattan. and a sculpture from partridge in 1896 which said a template for how grant was conceived by shrady. you can see the taciturn figure with a hat and cape, and other artists as well. we have this collaborative piece by french and potter in philadelphia. this is more typical. one sculpture working on a figure. potter would often do the equestrian mount, and the other artist would do the figure. shrady tackled the entire
9:34 am
memorial, he had no collaborators other than his assistant which completed it upon his death. we are missing a slide, but that is ok. we are moving into the next phase, which i wanted to present an overview of the conservation. project, youn a are thinking about, what are your objectives? what are you hoping to achieve? a studyht we had performed, there is technical information, but in the end you have to have a goal. there is an aesthetic objective. we determined we needed to remove the wax coating and corrosion so the forms could be appreciated. .hey are so complex and rich
9:35 am
the piece needed to approximate as close as possible the original finish based on photographs, research, and other sculptures by shrady. we also determined we needed to protect the effort. we needed to apply a protective coating to prevent corrosion from occurring, and to ensure the preservation of the monument . we have to re-fabricate close to 100 missing pieces, swords, buckles, belts. a tremendous amount of detail that over the years has either been picks off -- picked off through vandalism, or has fallen through corrosion. a tremendous effort had to go through to document and understand almost every square inch. to recognize how it was originally and identify what
9:36 am
might be missing. there is the picture that i wanted to show you. that is how the grand memorial looks now. i want to take you behind the scaffold and screen to get a more up close and personal view. this is the beginning of the project, where we formed a committee inviting conservators from the national gallery and the smithsonian to work with us, and other experts who have to come to monument, a consensus about the best way to proceed. i found that to be a stimulating and informative approach. i'm grateful for the colleagues that worked with us and give up their time. in theer primary concern first phase of the conservation
9:37 am
is removing the tremendous amount of staining on the marble pieces. early photographs reveal that this staining occurred early in the life of the memorial, indicating it may not have been d. perly coate this has been going on for almost 100 years. was tost thing we did mock up the various approaches to cleaning. we did a test cleaning of three primary approaches. on the left is calcium carbonate suspended in water. it is like a fine sand applied through a hose removing surface corrosion. another approach used laser technology. the third used medium pressure water jets.
9:38 am
see some of the techniques and action -- in action. here is the laser cleaning. here is the waterjet. toare applying this approach the actual monument. like shrady, we started with the lions. it made sense because they were the smaller and more accessible elements. you are seeing the southwest lion partially plain. ass is the artillery group it looks almost -- this is a very contemporary view. they have almost finished cleaning the artillery group. it is before any recut nation -- any recut nation -- any
9:39 am
recognation has occurred. this is how water has pulled on ooled onment -- has p the monument. fordy wanted actual puddles realism, but it is not good to have water sitting on bronze. holeslution is to drill for the water could drain. where's the water draining? will are trapped debris and create a worse problem than just ?aving the water settle it is a case-by-case decision as we examine parts of the monument to come up with solutions that make the most sense for that element. here is an example of missing pieces. we are missing part of this
9:40 am
strap. some of the missing pieces are not obvious, but sometimes they are where you are missing half of a bayonet or half of a bridel. civilearning more about war military trappings than i knew before. shrady really was almost a scholar and a sense in his desire to be accurate and complete. this is the process of replicating missing bronze pieces. here, foundry workers are at the memorial creating a mold taken from the sculpture. you can see pieces in the foundry. some of them are the wax casts. some of them are the iron templates on the monument that can be used to replicate missing pieces.
9:41 am
here you see some of the bronze casting, what i would describe as raw bronze that has not been the -- has not been patine d. one process was thinking about the patina. what color should the monument be, and how can we make an informed decision? in our research was an interesting model in a publication associated with the foundry showing a plaster that is tinted to simulate a finish an artist may consider for the finished bronze. that was one of our clues. here's an example looking at various -- patinas to bring out different
9:42 am
tones. some brought out more of a red, others brought out more of a greenish-brown. here is the patina being applied. is a fairly recent view of the southwest lion after pati nization with an additional coating. corrosion,emove the you have to think, how are you going to protect it for the long term? the primary options are wax or an acrylic resin. opted for the acrylic resin because it has more of a herbal and long-term protective coating . here is a reminder of how the lions looks before we began the conservation, and how they look now.
9:43 am
oops. one more. ait, wait, there is one more. the best one. ok, i will get us back to where we were. ok, thank you. at the time that the grant was commissioned, it was seen as a tremendous accomplishment. boths really celebrated, in publication, newspapers, and artistic circles. it has continued to captivate
9:44 am
power. by its dramatic today it communicates the same power and drama. i think it has really become a fixture in the landscape of popular culture. i always find this mesmerizing. here you have the grant. you can see it from different angles, which i love.
9:45 am
so, anyway. thank you very much for your attention. [applause] if you have any questions, i would be happy to answer them. sir?
9:46 am
>> [inaudible] excellent question. the process is complicated. the first is focusing on the bronze statue and the marble pedestal. benext bring we will complete without phase. we are moving rapidly with the conservation of the bronze. the conservator will be removing the scaffold that cases each element. it is around each part. the plaza now, but you cannot see beyond the screens. yes? how much conversation took place between the folks that triumphant ondom top of the capital and you? it looks like it was the same kind of problem.
9:47 am
ms. cohen: a lot of conversations took place. >> it is separate but similar kind of process. cleaning onater freedom in 1993, and it has been protected. we have kept it in good shape, which is what we want to do with the grant memorial. ms. cohen: some of the same conservators consulted with the barbara on the freedom that have been consulting with us on the grant. yes? the plaster model? ms. cohen: i'm not aware that stillaster model is
9:48 am
standing. we have located the bronze replica of artillery that is wyomingo scale in cody, and the metropolitan museum of art that is on loan to the buffalo bill museum. under than not, we have not found another plaster model. 's grandchildren contacted us, and she has a bronze head of one of the horses from artillery. .e looked at that another was part of an exhibition in washington, we also looked at that. there are smaller pieces in the national gallery at the met. if you have a plaster model, i would love to see it. >> maybe we will wrap up with that. thank you. ms. cohen: thank you all. [applause] plugwant to make a quick
9:49 am
for those who have spoken with us in august. this saturday on c-span, barbara's will be on tv on saturday. the others are archived on their website, which is . you can check them out online. one of the many architects of the capitol dome restoration will share part of that process. >> michele? will there be a special dedication? >> all of you, thank you for and the kids for
9:50 am
just saying no. thank you. my hope is the women of the future will feel truly free to follow whatever paths their talents and natures lead to. i think they thought the white , what youso glamorous did was so glamorous, your life is so glamorous. parties,saw where the the meeting people, you know? i have to tell you, i've never worked harder in my life. timency reagan was a long political partner, protector, and caretaker for president ronald reagan. and involved first lady she was active with key


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on