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- The Art of the Exposition - 5/15 -
always reposeful. His "Fountain of Energy" gives a good idea of what I mean. It is the first piece of detached sculpture that greets the Exposition visitor. Its position at the main gate, in the South Gardens, in front of the Tower of Jewels, is the most prominent place the Exposition offers. It is worthy of its maker's talent. Its main quality is a very fine, stimulating expression of joyousness that puts the visitor at once in a festive mood. The Fountain of Energy is a symbol of the vigor and daring of our mighty nation, which carried to a successful ending a gigantic task abandoned by another great republic. The whole composition is enjoyable for its many fine pieces of detail. Beginning at the base, one observes the huge bulks of fanciful sea-beasts, carrying on their backs figures representing the four principal oceans of the world: the North and South Arctic, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Some are carrying shells and their attitudes express in unique fashion a spirit of life and energy which makes the whole fountain look dynamic, in contrast with the static Tower of Jewels. Everything else in this fountain has the dynamic quality, from its other inhabitants of the lower bowls, those very jolly sea-nymphs, mermaids, or whatever one may want to call them. They are even more fantastically, shaped than the larger figures. In their bizarre motives some of the marine mounts look like a cross between a submarine and a rockcod.
Rising from the very center of the fountain basin, a huge sphere, supported by a writhing mass of aquatic beasts, continues the scheme upwards, culminating in the youth on horseback as the dominating figure of the whole scheme. The sphere is charmingly decorated with reclining figures of the two hemispheres and with a great number of minor interesting motives of marine origin. The youth on horseback is not exactly in harmony with the fountain; one feels that the aquatic feeling running through the rest of the fountain is not equally continued in this exceedingly well-modeled horse and youth and those two smaller-scaled figures on his shoulders - I feel that the very clever hand of a most talented artist has not been well supported by a logical idea. Their decorative effect is very marked, taken mainly as a silhouette from a distance. They are no doubt effective in carrying upwards a vertical movement which is to some extent interfered with by the outstretched arms of the youth. Mr. Calder has given us so very many excellent things, alone and in collaboration with others throughout the Exposition, that we must allow him this little bizarre note as an eccentricity of an otherwise well-balanced genius.
As long as we are in the South Gardens, we might take the time to investigate the two fountains on either side of the center, towards the Horticultural Palace on the left and Festival Hall on the right. There we find a very lithe mermaid, used alike on either side, from a model by Arthur Putnam. Many of us who for years looked forward to the great opportunity of the Exposition, which would give Arthur Putnam a worthy field for his great genius, will be disappointed to know that the mermaid is his only contribution, and scarcely representative of his original way in dealing with animal forms. The untimely breakdown, some two years ago, of his robust nature prevented his giving himself more typically, for his real spirit is merely suggested in this graceful mermaid.
Sherry Fry's figural compositions on the west of Festival Hall might well be worthy of a little more attention than their somewhat remote location brings them. The two reclining figures on the smaller domes are reposeful and ornate. A stroll through the flower carpets of the South Gardens, amidst the many balustrade lighting Hermae, discloses a wealth of good architectural sculpture, which in its travertine execution is doubly appealing.
There are four equestrian statues in different places on the north side of the Avenue of Palms. Two are in front of the Tower of Jewels, the "Cortez" by Charles Niehaus, and "Pizarro," by Charles Cary Rumsey. The third is in front of the Court of Flowers, and the last at the entrance to the Court of Palms. The two latter, Solon Borglum's "Pioneer," and James Earl Fraser's "The End of the Trail," belong as much together as the two relatively conventional Spanish conquerors guarding the entrance to the Court of the Universe.
The symbolism of the "Pioneer" and "The End of the Trail" is, first of all, a very fine expression of the destinies of two great races so important in our historical development. The erect, energetic, powerful man, head high, with a challenge in his face, looking out into early morning, is very typical of the white man and the victorious march of his civilization. His horse steps lightly, prancingly, and there is admirable expression of physical vigor and hopeful expectation. The gun and axe on his arm are suggestive of his preparedness for any task the day and the future may bring.
Contrast this picture of life with the overwhelming expression of physical fatigue, almost exhaustion, that Fraser gives to his Indian in "The End of the Trail." It is embodied in rider and horse. Man and beast seem both to have reached the end of their resources and both are ready to give up the task they are not equal to meet.
The psychology of this great group is particularly fine. It is in things like these that our American sculpture will yet find its highest expression, rather than in the flamboyant type of technically skillful work so abundantly represented everywhere. "The End of the Trail" could have been placed more effectively in the midst of, or against, groups of shrubbery in a more natural surrounding, where so close a physical inspection as one is invited to in the present location would not be possible.
The Tower of Jewels, however, with its lofty arch and suggestion of hidden things behind it encourages the spirit of investigation. On entering this great arch, one is suddenly attracted by the pleasing sound of two fountains, sheltered in the secluded abutting walls of the great tower. Minor arches, piercing the base of the tower west and east, open up a view toward these sheltered niches, harboring on the right the Fountain of Youth, by Mrs. Edith Woodman Burroughs, and the Fountain of Eldorado at the left, by Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney. These two fountains are totally different in character, and they could well afford to be so, since they are not visible as a whole at the same time, although physically not far apart.
Mrs. Burrough's fountain is very na´ve in feeling, very charming in the graceful modeling of the little girl. The decorative scheme of this poetic unit is very simple and well-sustained throughout its architectural parts.
Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney's fountain is of the intellectual, dramatic kind. The treatment of this almost theatrical subject is well balanced. While it does not possess any too much repose, it is very effective. In general there are three parts to this fountain; the central doorway of Eldorado, just ajar, disclosing faintly this land of happiness; while on either side are two long panels showing great masses of humanity in all manner of positions and attitudes, all striving toward the common goal. Some are shown almost at the end of their journey, overtaken with exhaustion; others more vigorous are lending a willing arm to the support of their less successful brothers and sisters about to fall by the wayside. The whole composition of those two friezes shows Mrs. Whitney as a very skillful and imaginative artist. It is a gratifying spectacle to see a woman such as Mrs. Whitney, so much heralded, possibly against her own inclinations, in the society columns of New York, find the time to devote herself to so serious and professional a piece of work as the Fountain of Eldorado.
Passing through the Tower of Jewels into the Court of the Universe, one's attention will be attracted to a number of pieces of detached statuary. The most important among them is "The Four Elements," by Robert Aitken. We all remember Aitken as the very promising young man who left us before the fire to make a career in the East, after having exhausted all local possibilities, the Bohemian Club included. His figures of the Four Elements are typical of his temperament and he acknowledges in them his indebtedness to Michael Angelo without being in the least imitative. These four figures are allegorically full of meaning, and taken simply as sculpture, they are excellently modeled. His "Fire," showing a Greek warrior defending himself from the fiery breath of a vicious reptile, is novel in its motive, while "Water" discloses Father Neptune bellowing out into the briny air, accompanied by dolphins in rhythmic motions. "Air," on the south, discloses Aitken as the skillful modeler of less muscular forms of a winged female figure, which in itself, without the birds, is suggestive of its meaning. It was very daring to introduce the story of "Icarus" in this group, by the small-scaled figure of this first mythological aviator on the outside of the wings of the larger figure. It helps to add a note of interest to an otherwise not so interesting part of the group.
The Fountains of the Rising and the Setting Sun are most impressive by their architectonic quality, and Weinman's clear style of modeling is seen at its best in the Tritons in the fountain bowl. The figure of the Setting Sun is one of the finest figures of the entire Exposition. The suggestion of the termination of day, indicated in the folding of the wings and in the suggestion of physical fatigue, is very well conveyed. A fine relaxation runs through the whole figure.
The Rising Sun, on the other side, has all the buoyancy of an energetic youth ready for his daily task. With widespread wings, looking squarely out into the world, he seems ready to soar into the firmament. The contrast is admirable in these two figures, and Weinman deserves all the popular applause bestowed upon his work.
Paul Manship has contributed two groups at the head of the east and west steps leading to the sunken gardens, each group consisting of two figures, one representing Festivity, the other, Art and Music. These groups are used alike on either side. Manship deserves to be better represented in the Exposition than by these two groups alone. His position as one of the very successful of our younger men would have warranted a more extensive employment of his very strong talent.
It is rather a flight from those Manship figures to the colossal groups of the Nations of the East and of the West, but one is irresistibly drawn to these wonderfully effective compositions. Their location makes them the most prominent groups in the Exposition ensemble.
The harmonious co-operation of Calder, Roth, and Lentelli has resulted in the creation of a modern substitute for the old Roman quadriga, which so generally crowns triumphal arches. Both groups are so skillfully composed as to have a similar silhouette against the blue sky, but individually considered they are full, of a great variety of detail. It was an accomplishment to balance the huge bulk of an elephant by a prairie schooner on the opposite side of the court. Considering the almost painful simplicity of the costumes and general detail of the western nations as contrasted with the elaborately decorative accessories, trappings, and tinsel of the Orient, it was no small task to produce a feeling of balance between these two foreign motives. But what it lacked in that regard was made up by allegorical figures, like those on top of the prairie schooner, used not so much to express an idea as to fill out the space occupied by the howdah on the other side. There is a great deal of fine modeling in the individual figures on horse and camel back and on foot.
In either one of the two groups much has been lost in the great height of the arches. Figures like "The Alaskan," "The Trapper," and "The Indian," for instance, are particularly fine and they would be very effective by themselves. "The Mother of Tomorrow" in the Nations of the West is a beautifully simple piece of sculpture.
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