San Francisco’s Holocaust Memorial

 Posted by on July 24, 2012
Jul 242012
Land’s End
Legion of Honor
Holocaust Memorial by George Segal

Time has taken its’ toll on this memorial.  The hand on the man above was not to touch the wire as they were electrified.

This memorial shows ten figures sprawled, recalling post-war photographs of the camps.  Placement of this work was controversial.  The choice to look over such a truly beautiful landscape recalling death in a rather graphic way was not acceptable to many.  The artist however, insisted that the viewer might consider death while facing towards the monument and life while facing towards the Golden Gate.
Segal’s work is executed in bronze and painted white. It has been the subject of grafitti, but Segal mentioned, at a 1998 conference at Notre Dame University, that he did not find this a problem since grafitti was a reminder that problems of prejudice have not been solved.
Segal’s ensemble of bodies is not random. One can find a “Christ-like” figure in the assemblage, reflecting on the Jewishness of Jesus, as well as a woman holding an apple, a reflection on the idea of original sin and the biblical connection between Jews and Christians, and raising the question of this relationship during the Holocaust.
The essential figure of the man standing at the fence is probably derived from Margaret Bourke-White’s famous Life Magazine 1945 photograph of the liberation of Buchenwald.
Another plaster version of Segal’s “The Holocaust” can be found at The Jewish Museum in New York.
George Segal (November 26, 1924 – June 9, 2000) was an American painter and sculptor associated with the Pop Art movement. He was presented with a National Medal of Arts in 1999.
Although Segal started his art career as a painter, his best known works are cast lifesize figures and the tableaux the figures inhabited. In place of traditional casting techniques, Segal pioneered the use of plaster bandages (plaster-impregnated gauze strips designed for making orthopedic casts) as a sculptural medium. In this process, he first wrapped a model with bandages in sections, then removed the hardened forms and put them back together with more plaster to form a hollow shell. These forms were not used as molds; the shell itself became the final sculpture, including the rough texture of the bandages. Initially, Segal kept the sculptures stark white, but a few years later he began painting them, usually in bright monochrome colors. Eventually he started having the final forms cast in bronze, sometimes patinated white to resemble the original plaster.
I am a very big fan of Segal’s work being moved to tears while standing in front of his “Bread Line” sculpture at the FDR Memorial in Washington D.C..

While these are at the Johnson Atelier. Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ so the background is different they are the same figures as the FDR Memorial.

Jul 132012
Lands End
Legion of Honor
Joan of Arc by Anna Huntington
Joan of Arc, nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans” is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII. She was captured by the Burgundians, transferred to the English for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais, and burned at the stake when she was 19 years old.
Anna Huntington has been on this site before.  This piece was one of her earliest public works, exhibited at the Salon of 1910 in Paris. Several replicas were made, and the statue won Anna the Legion of Honor from the French government. In 1927.

Land’s End – El Cid

 Posted by on April 20, 2012
Apr 202012
Land’s End
Palace of the Legion of Honor
El Cid by Anna Huntington

This piece is part of the Collection of the Fine Arts Museum. It sits on the lawn in front of the Palace of the Legion of Honor.

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043 – July 10, 1099), known as El Cid Campeador (“The lord-master of military arts”), was a Castilian nobleman, military leader, and diplomat. Exiled from the court of the Spanish Emperor Alfonso VI of León and Castile, El Cid went on to command a Moorish force consisting of Muladis, Berbers, Arabs and Malians, under Yusuf al-Mu’taman ibn Hud, Moorish king of the northeast Al-Andalus city of Zaragoza, and his successor, Al-Mustain II.

The name El Cid comes from the article el (which means “the” in both Spanish and Arabic), and the dialectal Arabic word سيد sîdi or sayyid, which means “Lord” or “The Master”. The title Campeador means “champion” or “challenger” in Spanish.

Anna Hyatt Huntington, (b. 1876 Cambridge, MA – d. Redding, CT 1973) became one of the best-known and most prolific sculptors of the 20th century. Her father, a paleontologist, interested her in animals. She began to make sculptures of animals that she observed on farms and at the New York City Zoo. She trained as a sculptor, first in Boston, then at the Art Students League in New York, and was taught by Hermon Atkins MacNeil and George Barnard. She also worked for the sculptor Gutzon Borglum.

In the early 1900s, she shared an apartment with the figure sculptor Abastenia St. Leger Eberle. They collaborated on sculptures; Anna Hyatt made the animal figures and Abastenia the human figures. She also studied and worked in France and Italy. One of her earliest public works was the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, exhibited at the Salon of 1910 in Paris. Several replicas were made, and the statue won Anna the Legion of Honor from the French government. In 1927, she made her first sculpture of ‘El Cid Campeador’ for the city of Seville, Spain.

In 1923, she married the wealthy philanthropist/poet/Spanish scholar Archer M. Huntington (Archer was the adopted son of Collis P. Huntington, the railroad magnate). The couple later (1929) bought 10,000 acres of land near the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina, named it Brookgreen Gardens and made it a showplace for Anna’s work and for the work of dozens of American figurative sculptors. It was also a sanctuary for plant and animal life of the region. The couple gave the estate, with an endowment, to the state of South Carolina in 1935. It is still a major tourist attraction.

Lincoln Park – Pax Jerusalem

 Posted by on April 15, 2012
Apr 152012
Lincoln Park
Legion of Honor
Pax Jerusalem by Mark di Suvero

This piece sits on the sculpture pad in front of the Legion of Honor, one of our finer museums in San Francisco.  It is by Mark di Suvero, who has been in this blog before.  It was controversial the day it was installed.  Many felt is was not representative of the quality people had come to expect from di Suvero, it also was a runner up, when the city lost out on a sculpture by di Suvero’s boyhood friend Richard Serra. Di Suvero and Richard Serra grew up on the same block in San Francisco. Both their fathers worked on the docks. Being by the water and the docks and the wharfs and the piers plays a powerful role in their work.

The piece is owned by the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and was purchased in 1999.

The Legion of Honor was the gift of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, wife of the sugar magnate and thoroughbred racehorse owner/breeder Adolph B. Spreckels. The building is a three-quarter-scale version of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur also known as the Hôtel de Salm in Paris.  This version is by architects George Applegarth and H. Guillaume. It was completed in 1924.