Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Memorials: Art, Design and emotions

A ‘generation next’ monument is about to be raised in Berlin to celebrate the German reunification of 1989. It is going to be a dazzling, monumental, steel disk which will move like a see-saw, with a capability to hold up to 1400 people at a time! (I hope it will be a free ride. :))

Monuments and memorials have an ancient history. People have started building or carving them out much before art, design and architecture became clearly separated streams of knowledge. From the finest specimen of sculpture, great achievement in metallurgy to complex architecture or engineering excellence, memorials have come a long way. What has not changed is perhaps the ‘monumental’ nature of memorials. 

These are built with the support of public commissions in modern days and in the past were often ‘gifts’ to fellow citizens from some ‘dear king/queen’. I think it is a subject certainly very dear to the artists, designers, architects and engineers but also for the sociologists. These pieces of public art reflect upon the decision makers and subsequently the society which commemorates them. They could be artistic- non artistic, pompous-humble, honest-dishonest, autocratic-democratic in their own special way based on the timeline and political situation. 

Here are some interesting monument-memorials around the world, varying in style, medium and purpose. There is invariably a story behind each memorial, perhaps evoking joy, but more often sorrow. Let us leave off the story for now and view each of these interesting creations as manifestations of art.

Trajan's Column, Rome, Italy (113 A.D.)

Asoka's Pillar, Vaishali, Bihar, India (300 B.C.)

Chernobyl nuclear disaster memorial, Chernobyl, Russia (1986)

Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington D.C., USA

War Memorial, Mansu Hill, N. Korea 

Memorial of the native people, Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile 

War memorial, Swakopmund, Namibia


William Cook said...

That's a strange idea for a monument-a giant teetering bowl--not real contemplative and more like a ride. I wonder if that giant Ferris Wheel in London is a memorial. It certainly is a ride. And how about the Eiffel Tower? Anyway, thanks for including the King Asoke Pillar. I've been reading about it but have never seen a picture of it. Best regards. Wm

david weir art said...

Great post Debu
Enjoying your blog.

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Powerful images, these memorials. I'm glad to see this post.

debu said...

William, David, Stephanie,

Thank you guys!

Nomi Lubin said...

Very strange to see a mushroom cloud made out of stone (concrete?). Not that it couldn't be done, but here it does not read as a cloud at all.

A lot to think about with all of these...

Nomi Lubin said...

Of these, for me, the pillars are most visually effective.

The (sort of) literalness of the Korean War memorial, the soldier section, has always been a little off to me. Not totally sure why, but I think something about the kind of illustrative realism of the figures and then the symbolic representation of the ground?
But hopefully it is meaningful to those who fought.

Nomi Lubin said...

My husband does not take the mushroom cloud literally, and finds it quite affecting. Hm.

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

An excellent collection of memorials, Debu. The new Berlin one sounds very innovative, indeed. Interesting to see the two columns together as a comparison, and to read about them via the links you've provided. The Chernobyl memorial is quite eerie, as is the Washington Korean War memorial, which is obviously all about loss, whereas the memorial in Korea, with its heroic look, proclaims vistory.Drama in the Namibia memorial, too. Most personal for me, though, is the Santiago sculpture, as I walk by there often, and actually did do so today.

bicocacolors said...

I always learn something when I come to see you, thank you very much and happy week!


Debu Barve said...

Nomi, Andrew, Elena,

Thank you so much for your comments here. The whole purpose of such posts is to exchange ideas and organize thoughts. Thank you and all others who have participated in this.

Slogan Murugan aka M S Gopal said...

Wish there were some from India too!

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