Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Monument.

… there is an attraction, a special charm in the colossal to which ordinary theories of art do not apply.

Gustave Eiffel

He had a point there. It certainly applies to Eiffel’s own Tower; in fact I believe that was his answer to those who questioned why his tower had to be so big. And it applies to Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, which would be an unremarkable sculpture if it weren’t for its monumental scale—

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And here are some other monumental sculptures, beautifully scattered in a monumental landscape of hills, forests, and fields, in the Storm King Art Center, about an hour’s drive north of New York City—

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We found ourselves there, almost accidentally, in late November 2012. The raw strength of the sculptures fit well into the bare landscape. But no doubt the sculptures will also complement, in a different way, the fresh green leaves that will soon cover the trees all around them. We’ll have to go back this Spring…

Of course, the monumental scale can also be misapplied—

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44 responses to “Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

  1. Can’t think of a better monument to show!

  2. Wonderful monuments! Never heard of the Storm King Art Center.

  3. I love that you included that last one. That is a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?

    janet

    • Overwhelming is one word for it… On the whole I really dislike these sculptures, so common now, where some rather banal shape has been blown up to huge proportions, and that’s the entire point… Hmm, that does rather contradict Eiffel’s observation that huge size is its own raison-d-être. I guess there’s something else needed as well… ;-)

  4. They’re all a little overwhelming. I prefer the natural ones, such as Stonehenge or the Easter Island heads.

  5. I was confident that one of yours would be the Stat of Lib – but I’d never have guessed the others you have included! They’re all a bit scary, actually.

  6. I found the artists description of the Three Legged Buddha just as strange as the monument. Nice photos.

  7. Really nice selection.

  8. Enjoyed your thoughts on monumental sculptures. Hope to visit Storm King myself this year.

    • At different times of the year, the experience is probably quite different. I can see it being very different in the Spring, Fall, and Winter (the only time we’ve been there so far) :-)

  9. Great choice of a monument! Wonderful image of Lady Liberty. I never heard of Storm King. It reminds me of Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ which is worth a visit.

    • Thanks for pointing out Grounds For Sculpture! Didn’t know about it.

      Storm King is a lot more wild, I think—there are really no laid out walks or anything like that, just the countryside, just subtly landscaped so as to show off the sculpture from afar, in some cases, and contrast and complement it by the natural features of hills, woods, and water.

      Also, Storm King, at 500 acres, might well be a hundred times bigger. It’s probably about two miles long…

  10. Isn’t this funny–we both posted ladies of the lake. Of course, yours is a lot more reverent! The last monument is interesting….Thanks for the like.

    • Reverent, or just a hundred and fifty years older… if the Statue of Liberty were being done today, it would probably end up something like your lady—except much bigger, of course ;-)

  11. Great variety of monuments and sculptures :)

  12. thought provoking post Vlad …

  13. Great Post and a truly beautiful monument.
    It always amazes me that a monument so ‘monumental’ has such fine details only possible to appreciate from a vantage point of a helicopter. But I think I understand the process of sculpting such a monument in scale and detail says something about the emotion of what it represents. In other words would a slab of steel in the same dimension have the same impact? It would only be monumental because of its size alone.

    • You make a very interesting point… :-)

      I am not sure that the Statue of Liberty is the best example, though. For one thing, it was made initially as a small sculpture, I believe, presumably with the detail appropriate to that scale, and then scaled up, preserving the detail (to the extent it could be preserved in copper sheathing). And scaled up, the detail is large enough to be seen from the ground (the nose is 5 feet long, for instance). Of course, you can also go up to the crown (and in years past to the torch). From there, the detail looks rather coarse.

      Maybe a better example would be those statues—I am not sure what I am remembering here, exactly—that were carved or painted with equal attention to detail even round the back or on surfaces that nobody would ever see…

      Finally, many of the monumental sculptures at Storm King are, in fact, giant steel beams—but rather subtly shaped and arranged. It’s the not just the giant scale…

      Interesting to think about! :-)

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  15. Nice collection. Really like the first and the last.

  16. Wow…I like those sculptures at the Storm King Art Center…looks like it is worth a trip…

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  20. Loved the Buddha until I saw the last one! Just great !

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