Wednesday, November 4, 2015

the last book I ever read (Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera, excerpt four)

from Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera:

Rumely warned Isamu that he would not be able to make a living as an artist. “He said, you’d better be a doctor, like he was . . . And so even before, while [I was still] going to high school he got a job for me at one point working in a laboratory.” Isamu had done brilliantly in chemistry, biology, physics, and math—an aptitude for science that would stand him in good stead years later when he designed technologically complex public monuments. But Rumely was broadminded enough to let Isamu try his hand at art, so that first summer after Isamu’s graduation, Rumely organized an apprenticeship for him with his friend the academic sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who had not yet carved the heads of presidents on Mount Rushmore.

When Isamu arrived at Borglum’s estate in Stamford, Connecticut, in the summer of 1922, Borglum was working on the first of his gigantic sculptural projects, a memorial to the heroes of the Confederate Army to be carved on the face of Stone Mountain in Georgia. It was to be a high-relief frieze of a group of equestrian figures, including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis, followed by a column of soldiers. That summer Borglum was busy with the sculpture’s clay and plaster models. (Borglum had only finished Lee’s head when, thanks to his irascible, authoritarian personality, he fought with the project’s commissioner and, in a rage, smashed his models and abandoned the project.)

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