Innovative Object Making and Visual Storytelling
www.studioeis.com
MAKING PUBLIC MEMORY
ONE SCULPTURE AT A TIME
StudioEIS unveiled a new sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, on the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, at the National Military Park and Visitor Center, Gettysburg, PA, on November 19, 2009
Volume VII / December 2009

Fourscore and seven years ago
our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived
in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are
created equal.


Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863

StudioEIS’ new Lincoln sculpture unveiled on November 19, 2009


A NEW SCULPTURE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN UNVEILED


On Wednesday, November 18, StudioEIS was honored, when after more than a year of work, our sculpture of Abraham Lincoln was dedicated at The National Military Park and Visitor Center in Gettysburg, PA.

Ivan Schwartz was introduced by Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whose great book, ‘The Last Full Measure’, is considered a seminal text by Civil War historians. As one of the key note speakers the other night, he spoke about creating public memory - in the case of Lincoln by developing a new sculpture of our 16th President that depicts him in a more naturalistic way than the several hundred previous major American Lincoln commissions.

The sculpture portrays Lincoln as he was on November 19, 1863 – 146 years after his Gettysburg Address was delivered to those gathered to principally hear Edward Everett, the great 19th century orator, who was the keynote speaker on that occasion. Lincoln took the train on the 18th of November from Baltimore and spent the night in the Wills house in the center of town, where he continued to craft the speech well into the night with a member of his cabinet.

His address came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history. In just over two minutes, Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and redefined the Civil War as a struggle not merely for the Union, but as "a new birth of freedom" that would bring true equality to all of its citizens, and that would also create a unified nation.

StudioEIS was commissioned more than a year ago by Robert H. Smith in association with The National Military Park and Visitor Center at Gettysburg to create a bronze sculpture of Lincoln as he would have appeared in November, 1863.

Since all of the monuments in the National Military Cemetery are largely inaccessible to the public, it was decided that a seated figure of Lincoln would allow the public to have a more intimate experience with the sculpture.

Drawings, models and eventually a full scale rendering yielded this great sculpture that was warmly embraced by the crowd of several hundred people on hand at the dedication. A previous sculpture by StudioEIS of President Lincoln and his horse was also dedicated in this bicentennial year at President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, DC.

There is no question that this sculpture of Lincoln was unusually challenging because it would be set in this most hallowed place in America. So much has been published on the subject of Lincoln, one might think the sheer volume of material would have made it an easy commission for StudioEIS. It proved to be just the opposite.

In the 19th century, and well into the 20th century, sculptors went to extraordinary lengths to further their careers by producing important Lincoln sculpture commissions. No matter who they were, however, even the best eventually exhausted the Lincoln storyline–a direct function of the prevailing attitudes towards Lincoln himself and issues of race. After his death, Lincoln was depicted as the Great Emancipator, but this ended as a sculptural genre with Reconstruction’s end in 1877, giving rise to the enduring image of Lincoln as the Savior of the Union.

Of the more than 600 sculptures devoted to the American Presidency, more than a third of them are of Abraham Lincoln - and 27 have been produced since the year 2000 – proving only that sculptors still make a staunch effort to develop, what James Percoco, Historian and High School teacher calls, public memory, especially in the case of Abraham Lincoln.

Patrick White, the Australian Nobel laureate, said “Inspiration descends only in flashes – to clothe circumstances.” We're sure this can be said of the work StudioEIS produces, and we wonder if this wasn’t also the case in Lincoln’s life?

No recent leader with the possible exception of the deeply flawed but hugely popular war time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, evokes a national pride equal to that of Lincoln – and maybe the reference to “war time” is key to the whole thing.

This sculpture is meant to render Lincoln in November of 1863 seen with the full burden of war on his back – We’ll leave it to you to decide if we even came close in our attempt – and ask you to reflect on the nature of memorialization in the 21st century-which, after 225 years of nationhood, seems to demand imagery that becomes increasingly more abstract.


Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation The National Military Cemetery
at Gettysburg
Ivan Schwartz, Founder and
Director of StudioEIS


The Gettysburg Foundation
The non-profit partner of the National Park Service at Gettysburg working to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg.

StudioEIS
A sculpture and design studio specializing in ‘visual storytelling’ for museums and public & private clients worldwide. StudioEIS is best known for its 2003 production of 42 life sized bronze sculptures of the signers of the US Constitution for the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. This project may be the largest of its type in American history. Our work is represented by subjects ranging from history and anthropology to science and sports.

Thanks
StudioEIS is grateful for the support of Robert H. Smith and the Gettysburg Foundation. Thanks to Andy Balderson of Donovan, Feola, Balderson & Assoc. for their contribution and support.


  On February 8, 2010 the work of StudioEIS will be featured in an exhibition entitled: Abraham Lincoln, One Man, Two Views, at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Ivan Schwartz T. 917 541 3617 Washington DC | ivan@studioeis.com
Elliot Schwartz T. 718 797 4561 Brooklyn New York | elliot@studioeis.com

© 2009 StudioEIS