Monday, February 7, 2011

Symbolism of Lincoln Memorial's Guerin murals : Art at the Park!

Glad we didn't miss the excellent and enlightening Art at the Park talk given by seasoned NPS Ranger Jan Buerger. She gave a linear and historical exposition of the reasons why the Mall has the architecture it does from Peter (Pierre) L'Enfant to the McMillan Commission and the City Beautiful Movement ending abruptly with the First World War.

" Guerin's "Enchanted Grove" consists of two murals, each with three parts, allegories of "the principles evident in Abraham Lincoln's life." Sometimes it's hard to get too "uncoolly" publicly excited about the ideas of America in this post-modern decadence as the norm ethos we are passing through. I'm not talking about the bellicose or chauvinistic America Love it or Leave It patriotism, but an earlier era that the creators of the Lincoln Memorial envisioned with the American ideals of Freedom but also Tolerance and Education.

The two Angels of Truth, one on each side, are painted in deeply symbolic intent. One raising her arms while the slaves still have their chains on suggest the Emancipation Proclamation was just the beginning, and that we have, in every generation, a long way to go to live up to these noble ideals, to shed their shackles. Freedom is reinforced by Tolerance and Americans are empowered by Education.

The Angel of Truth on the other side from the Gettysburg Address joins the hands of North and South and her wings spread widely to cover Arts & Sciences of Painting, Philosophy, Music and well as Architecture, Chemistry, Sculpture, Literature and a child anticipating Future. Faith, Hope and Charity are on one side of the angel joining hands and Justice and the Rule of Law are on the other. When war ends, Ranger Buerger reasons, art, science and culture can grow and flourish, these murals show.

Ranger Buerger brought alive the American ideals and traced them through movements in art history, landscape, architecture, politics and technology. It was well worth a wait in the cold.

Next Sunday's at 3 pm will be at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

1 comment:

  1. Is there video of this for those that cannot be there? How about next week? Sounds super!