Edited by Gerald Boerner
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Copyright©2010 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
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Quotations Related to SCULTURE
“A sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood up somewhere.”
— Frank Stella
“Architecture is inhabited sculpture.”
— Constantin Serra
“Good painting is the kind that looks like sculpture.”
“But I don’t think that sculpture belongs in everyday life like a table does, or like a chair.”
— Anthony Caro
“All my life as an artist I have asked myself: What pushes me continually to make sculpture? I have found the answer. art is an action against death. It is a denial of death.”
— Jacques Lipchitz
“And certainly the history of public sculpture has been disastrous but that doesn’t mean it ought not to continue and the only way it even has a chance to continue is if the work gets out into the public.”
— Richard Serra
“Firstly I did it in this huge theatre in Avignon, then to smaller places, then bigger places. You have to change the volume of the voice, give more or less. The way you have to relate to space makes it like sculpture.”
— Isabelle Huppert
“In the studio, I don’t do a lot of work that requires repetitive activity. I spend a lot of time looking and thinking and then try to find the most efficient way to get what I want, whether it’s making a drawing or a sculpture, or casting plaster or whatever.”
— Bruce Nauman
Mount Rushmore — The Sculpturing Begins
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and later by his son Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.
South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. Robinson’s initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles site and chose the larger Mount Rushmore. Borglum also decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. After securing federal funding, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum’s death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over construction. Though the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in October 1941.
The U.S. National Park Service took control of the memorial in 1933, while it was still under construction, and manages the memorial to the present day. It attracts approximately two million people annually.
Construction of Mount Rushmore
The construction of Mount Rushmore National Memorial took about 14 years, from 1927 to 1941.
Originally known to the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers, the mountain was renamed after Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885. At first, the project of carving Rushmore was undertaken to increase tourism in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. After long negotiations involving a Congressional delegation and President Calvin Coolidge, the project received Congressional approval. The carving started in 1927, and ended in 1941 with some injuries and no fatalities.
As Six Grandfathers, the mountain was part of the route that Lakota leader Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at Harney Peak. Following a series of military campaigns from 1876 to 1877, the United States asserted control over the area, a claim that is still disputed on the basis of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie (see section "Controversy" below). Among white American settlers, the peak was known variously as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs. It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition by Rushmore, David Swanzey (husband of Carrie Ingalls), and Bill Challis.
Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure that the carving could be accomplished. Borglum had been involved in sculpting the Confederate Memorial Carving, a massive bas-relief memorial to Confederate leaders on Stone Mountain in Georgia, but was in disagreement with the officials there. The original plan was to perform the carvings in granite pillars known as the Needles. However, Borglum realized that the eroded Needles were too thin to support sculpting. He chose Mount Rushmore, a grander location, partly because it faced southeast and enjoyed maximum exposure to the sun. Borglum said upon seeing Mount Rushmore, "America will march along that skyline." Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925. President Coolidge insisted that along with Washington, two Republicans and one Democrat be portrayed.
Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the colossal 60-foot (18 m) carvings of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of American history. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory. The image of Thomas Jefferson was originally intended to appear in the area at Washington’s right, but after the work there was begun, the rock was found to be unsuitable, so the work on the Jefferson figure was dynamited, and a new figure was sculpted to Washington’s left.
In 1933, the National Park Service took Mount Rushmore under its jurisdiction. Engineer Julian Spotts helped with the project by improving its infrastructure. For example, he had the tram upgraded so that it could reach the top of Mount Rushmore for the ease of workers. By July 4, 1934, Washington’s face had been completed and was dedicated. The face of Thomas Jefferson was dedicated in 1936, and the face of Abraham Lincoln was dedicated on September 17, 1937. In 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the head of civil-rights leader Susan B. Anthony, but a rider was passed on an appropriations bill requiring that federal funds be used to finish only those heads that had already been started at that time. In 1939, the face of Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated.
The Sculptor’s Studio—a display of unique plaster models and tools related to the sculpting—was built in 1939 under the direction of Borglum. Borglum died from an embolism in March 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, continued the project. Originally, it was planned that the figures would be carved from head to waist, but insufficient funding forced the carving to end. Borglum had also planned a massive panel in the shape of the Louisiana Purchase commemorating in eight-foot-tall gilded letters the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Louisiana Purchase, and seven other territorial acquisitions from Alaska to Texas to the Panama Canal Zone.
The entire project cost US$989,992.32. Notably for a project of such size, no workers died during the carving.
On October 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An essay from Nebraska student William Andrew Burkett, selected as the winner for the college-age group in 1934, was placed on the Entablature on a bronze plate in 1973. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush officially dedicated Mount Rushmore.
In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entranceway to a planned "Hall of Records"; the vault was installed in 1998.
Ten years of redevelopment work culminated with the completion of extensive visitor facilities and sidewalks in 1998, such as a Visitor Center, the Lincoln Borglum Museum, and the Presidential Trail. Maintenance of the memorial annually requires mountain climbers to monitor and seal cracks. The memorial is not cleaned to remove lichens. It has been cleaned only once. On July 8, 2005, Kärcher GmbH, a German manufacturer of cleaning machines, conducted a free cleanup operation; the washing used pressurized water at over 200 °F (93 °C).
Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876–77. The Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity. Members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it "Mount Crazy Horse". Among the participants were young activists, grandparents, children and Lakota holy man John Fire Lame Deer, who planted a prayer staff atop the mountain. Lame Deer said the staff formed a symbolic shroud over the presidents’ faces "which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled."
In 2004, the first Native American superintendent of the park was appointed. Gerard Baker has stated that he will open up more "avenues of interpretation", and that the four presidents are "only one avenue and only one focus."
The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate a famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of federal funds. However, this memorial is likewise the subject of controversy, even within the Native American community.
The Monument also provokes controversy because some allege that underlying it is the theme of racial superiority legitimized by the idea of Manifest Destiny. The mountains were carved with Borglum’s choice of four presidents active during the time of the acquisition of Native American land. Gutzon Borglum himself excites controversy because he was an active member of the white supremacist organisation, the Ku Klux Klan.
In 2009, author Ivan Eland released Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, a book that advocates a reappraisal of the presidency of three of the four presidents on the monument.
Some Additional Facts about the Construction Process
A few hundred workers, who were usually miners, sculptors, or rock climbers, used dynamite, jack hammering, and chiseling to sculpt the model from the mountain. A stairway was constructed to the top of the mountain first and ropes fixed. Workers were supported by harnesses attached to the ropes.
The irises of the eyes were sculpted as holes. A cube of granite was left in each to represent the reflection highlight thereby making the appearance of the eyes more realistic.
Construction began on August 10, 1927.
George Washington’s head was started first. Due to the economic instability of the United States caused by the Great Depression, it was completed in seven years, and dedicated to the public on Independence Day 1934. A large American flag was placed over Washington’s head before it was revealed, and this became a tradition for each of the Presidents’ heads.
Thomas Jefferson’s head was started next, left of Washington. Before the head was complete, Borglum ordered that it be blasted off due to poor rock quality. Jefferson’s head was started again to the right of Washington. Jefferson’s head was dedicated in 1936.
Abraham Lincoln’s head was more of a challenge because of his beard, but his head was completed on the far right of the cliff, dedicated on September 17, 1937, the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States in 1787.
While Theodore Roosevelt’s head was being constructed, accommodations for tourists were being built, including plumbing, lighting, and a visitor center. Not finding suitable rock, the sculptors cut farther back into the mountain, causing concerns about how far they were cutting. On July 2, 1939, Roosevelt’s head was dedicated.
Every year more than 2 million people travel to South Dakota to marvel at Mt. Rushmore. The Lincoln Borglum Museum is located by the memorial. One of the best locations for viewing Mt. Rushmore is located above the museum at Grandview Terrace. The Presidential Trail, a walking trail and boardwalk, starts at Grandview Terrace and travels through the forests to the Sculptor’s Studio, providing up-close views of the memorial. The Sculptor’s studio built by Gutzon Borglum features discussion about the construction of the monument and the tools used by workers.
Please take time to further explore the Construction
and significance of Mount Rushmore by accessing the
Wikipedia articles referenced below…
Other Events on this Day:
Patriot troops launch a failed assault on the British at Germantown, Pennsylvania.
Rutherford B. Hayes, the nineteenth U.S. president, is born in Delaware, Ohio.
Isaac Adams of Boston patents a motorized printing press that helps enable the mass printing of books.
The first U.S.Open golf tournament is played in Newport, Rhode Island.
Carving begins on Mount Rushmore National Monument.
The Soviet Union launches Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit, inaugurating the dawn of the space age. Traveling at about 18,000 miles per hour, Sputnik elicits great interest and concern in the United States, prompting the space race.
Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver gets into trouble for the first time, as Leave It to Beaver premieres on CBS.
Rock icon Janis Joplin is found dead of an accidental heroin overdose in her hotel room in Los Angeles, where she was staying to record her final album, Pearl. Joplin was 27.
Dates and events based on:
William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Mt. Rushmore…
Wikipedia: Construction of Mount Rushmore…
Brainy Quote: Sculpture Quotes…