Saturday, November 4, 2017

Pulling an Oneida, Pt. 3

Back in January 2016 I wrote about a town in New York whose seal depicted what appeared to be a frontiersman throttling a Native American fellow.  Critics called it racist and offensive, defenders said it portrayed an actual historical event, a friendly wrasslin' match between one Hugh White and an unnamed Oneida, a test of strength and manliness.

The seal looked pretty darn dubious, but Whitesboro residents were not phased and didn't want to change it.  Well, national media coverage must have had an effect because less than two weeks later it was reported that the town and reps from the Oneida Nation were going to come up with a new seal.

Just a peek at the original:


I don't think one need be a "social justice warrior" to see why this seal is problematic.  If I didn't know the story, I'd probably think it was satire.  I mean, even the name...Whitesboro!? 

Well, I'm a bit late (it was reported back in September) but they've finally come up with something that's basically the same image but a little more even-handed:


I think it's a good compromise.  Sign o' the times.

Although now it's "case closed", you can still enjoy this witty bit The Daily Show did back when the kerfuffle was still causing noise....

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Confederate Monuments: Removal and Resistance


I've written a couple of posts about honoring the Confederacy and the removal of Confederate monuments here on LoS, so I found this Op-Ed interesting.  In the wake of today's violent clashes in Charlottesville, which resulted from a rally to protest such a removal, it seems especially relevant.


The Charlottesville clashes came after the KKK and various white nationalist groups planned a “Unite the Right” rally to protest the slated removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee.  For the time being, the statue is still in Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park.  That alone is the sign of the times -- the change itself, and the resentment it has provoked.  It was the third, and largest, rally held in Charlottesville this year. 

And like the previous two, the rally was met by large number of counter-protesters, and things quickly degenerated:

On Saturday morning, men in combat gear — some wearing bicycle and motorcycle helmets and carrying clubs and sticks and makeshift shields — had fought each other in the downtown streets, with little apparent police interference. Both sides sprayed each other with chemical irritants and plastic bottles were hurled through the air.

After the protesters had begun to disperse, someone taking a cue from terrorists in London and Paris drove their car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one and injuring 19.  Three cars had already smashed into one another earlier in the day, sending people running.  A State of Emergency is in place.

None of this surprises me.  I've seen too many "The South will Rise Again" bumper stickers on trucks with gun racks.  As I wrote in 2010:

Wild and woolly times ahead.
Be Prepared for the Years of Lead!

I have the feeling this just the beginning. 

Update:  from today's NYT, a little more background.  Art matters.

The Statue at the Center of Charlottesville’s Storm

Update 8/16:  Who'd a thunk it?   

Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate monuments (except grave markers apparently)

Update 8/17:
NYT list of Confederate monuments coming down across the country

Update 8/19:

 .  .  .  .

More on Laws of Silence

The Battle of the Battle of Liberty Place
Ain't just whistlin' Dixie  
The Politics of Removal  
Tea for Two: American Years of Lead



Friday, July 21, 2017

Bourdelle's "La France": Montauban copy

When I first saw Bourdelle's La France in Paris in 2011 (on LoS), it encompassed a lot of what I was writing about at the time, featuring symbols with which I'd become very familiar:  A strong woman as an embodiment of France, a serpent, pillars, and a triangle.

There are four bronze castings of the sculpture made from the original maquette, and the Paris version is the fourth (dedicated June 14, 1948).  Another is in Montauban, the capital of the Tarn-et-Garonne, just a short hop up the road from chez moi.  This second casting was dedicated on November 13, 1932.  The base feautures plaques commemorating every conflict from WWI to 21st-century military actions in places such as Chad and ex-Yugoslavia, a couple of names each on small "ex-voto" compared to the hundreds of names around the base naming the staggering number of victims of the Great War.  If you examine my not-so-great photographs, you'll see that for some reason in version two the spear carried by the Athena-like woman is longer than version four, the spearhead seems slightly different, and it certainly isn't hung with the two wreaths one sees on the Paris casting.

The third version is also quite a bit different, as it (quoting myself): 

had originally been placed at the entrance of the "foire d'Alger." After the foire, it was put on the terrace of the Musée de Beaux-Arts, where she scrutinized the Mediterranean.  This one has the most storied history.
As a symbol of de Gaulle, the statue was blown up on the evening of November 26, 1961 by the OAS (Organisation armée secrète), a far-right group who despised de Gaulle for what they perceived as his treason towards Algeria, then a French Department, after his actions led to Algerian independence in 1962.  The socle was pulverized and the statue damaged. 
After this symbolic attack, the pieces were collected and stored until the statue could be repaired.  The French ambassador obtained permission to recover the statue but the French administration refused to pay for the transport cost, instead foisting the responsibility upon Paris' Bourdelle museum.  It was eventually taken to be repaired but the part of the support which depicted the snakes, as well as that part of the lance which held the olive branches, were too damaged to be repaired.  This lance was later sawed down in order for it to fit inside the museum of the Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan military academy.
So.  Not much new, I just happened to stumble upon La France (#2) in Montauban recently, after having forgotten my idea to try and hunt it down after reading about it while researching the one in Paris.  The different castings each have their own history, and I was surprised to learn they had originally been cast for different kinds of monuments. For example, the original maquette was made to commemorate the US' entry into the First World War.  The project floundered but a half-sized casting was exposed at the Salon in 1923.  In 1925, the full-sized, 9m version was cast for use in an expo, after which it was acquired by Briançon, where it stands alone as the city's war memorial.  The second was made directly for Montauban's monument aux morts.  The commission for the Montauban monument, described as a "temple," was given to Bourdelle in 1921, but the monument was not completed until 1930, a year after Bourdelle's death.  The third sat outside a museum in Algiers, was dynamited by the OAS, and then reassembled for another museum, inside this time, at the École St-Cyr.  Number four honors the Free French and "the call" of June 18 by de Gaulle, and was privately funded.  The OAS must have been thrilled.

In addition to the four 9m casts, there are also some 4.6m casts held by various museums.

Apparently, Bourdelle considered La France to be his greatest work, which is saying something, considering that Bourdelle's body of work is impressive in both quantity and quality.  If you look at his lifespan, 1861-1929, the radical modernity of his work is especially striking.  It's really kind of surprising he's not as well-known as say, Rodin, who was an admirer.  I'm lucky that quite a few of his sculptures dot Montauban.  La France is only one of many Bourdelle's works to be found in and around the historic city center near what is now a museum for another native-son, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.