Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Man Upstairs

Milton Horn, "Who Walketh Upon the Wings of the  Wind"
Bronze, 39.75 inches (Detail) 1958

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

(Psalm 104, excerpt)

Once or twice a year, I type "Milton Horn sculptor"
into a Goodle search window to see what pops up. 

 A new exhibition? A new picture online? Whatever.

When I did that two weeks ago,
 I found an image of a statue called "Moses" on an  auction site
 along with the incredible news that the auction would begin

Now I own it.

I first saw the piece when I was a teenager, about fifty years ago. My father had helped Milton build the armature for the monumental "Hymn to Water" and he drove us  up to Chicago one weekend to see the nearly finished work before it was cast.. I've written about that trip here . We spent the night in Milton's home, surrounded by his collection of Medieval, ancient, and Asian sculpture, as well as his own work - including this piece.

It was the only statue to which he gave an optional  spotlight. He clicked it on whenever I showed an interest in viewing it. . It's the only free-standing statue of Jehovah or Yahweh or the God of Abraham or God the Father or  the Judeo-Christian God that I have ever seen.       

But God  has also appeared in several sculptural reliefs, including his own,  In  "Hymn to Water",  God the sculptor, is modeling Man.

 Eight years earlier he represented the in-dwelling, feminine aspect of God, the Shekhinah, in a sculptural relief  on the outside wall of Temple Har Zion in River Forest, Illinois.

Looking back through art history, Michelangelo's God is the best known.

Here, God makes Man.

Here, God makes the sun and moon

This  face appears more severe and less loving that the one gazing at Adam.

Jacopo  Della  Quercia

Christian art has always been  more interested in statues of  Jesus and the Virgin Mary. They can serve as objects of devotion and supplication. God, the father,  is too distant - and dangerous..

Earthquakes, tornadoes, plagues, and tsunamis are  some of the  "acts of God".  Jesus would never harm a fly.

Here are a few more memorable representations of the Man Upstairs:

Jacopo Della Quercia

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Ghiberti's God is more like a quiet, gentle father than the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.

Lee Lawrie
Here's a 20th Century version found in Rockefeller Center - based on the painting by William Blake.
It seems to belong in a movie theater - or Disneyland.

Michelangelo's "Moses" is the statue that Milton Horn's God most closely resembles  -  in both turbulent inner energy and that fine pair of horns emerging from his scalp.

Michelangelo gave Moses his horns  because it's how the Vulgate Bible translated the Hebrew word for  "shining".

Milton Horn gave God his horns as a tribute to Michelangelo - thereby invoking art history as well as deity.

And one might note that God has turned his face away from the viewer to communicate with an attendant angel.  Perhaps the angel is dutifully awaiting a command - but as Milton once explained it to me, the angel is delivering a report - which makes more sense to me.

God was the prime mover - but He is not the continuous mover.  He put things in motion - and then keeps track of how things are turning out.

Which should let him off the hook for all the bad stuff that happens every day - especially to Jews in the early 20th Century.

The true believer cannot expect God to get him out of every jam.  But he can expect not to be alone.

(reminds me of Rembrandt's early etchings  depicting  old oriental men)

The face of God is interesting - but the important content of this piece is  turbulent, writhing power - the kind that spins out the galaxies as well as the double-helix of cellular biology.

It's as evident from the back as well as the front   --- because, of course, the universe has no front and back.

One might well think of this as an abstract sculpture -- which occasionally takes the form of recognizable human features.

The Divine Dance

Just noticed this little putto under God's foot -- just as cherubs accompanied the God of  Michelangelo.

Here is the piece currently on display in my office at the store.  God is flanked by the crown of His creation:  beautiful young women.

On the right, my father  presents "Gloria", his favorite model.

On the left, I present a Palette and Chisel model from about twenty years ago.

Showing my sculpture beside that of Milton and RJ is something of a dream-come-true for me.

Though - I might note that I am only person in the world who currently has any interest in owning these three statues.  Horn's piece cost less than half the cost of casting it. My father's piece is only worth the cost of its re-cycled bronze.  And my polyester resin piece is utterly ....... priceless.