Monday, May 12, 2014

Art Deco: Aspects of Mankind - Rockefeller Center, NY, NY

Aspects of Mankind
by Gaston Lachaise

GPS: N40° 45.575; W73° 58.831

Short Description:

Aspects of Mankind by Gaston Lachaise is located at 1250 Avenue of the Americans (6th Avenue), between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan.

Long Description:

The French-American sculptor Gaston Lachaise was commissioned by Abby and Nelson Rockefeller to created these four 11' by 4' bas-relief Art Deco limestone carvings that were installed in 1935 above the entrance to 1250 6th Avenue.   The allegorical figures represent  four different aspects of the development of civilization. From left to right they are: Genius Seizing the Light of the Sun, Conquest of Space, Gifts of Earth to Mankind, and Spirit of Progress.

In each case a large heroic central figure, representing the allegorical concept, is flanked by a pair of smaller human figures:

Genius Seizing the Light of the Sun depicts the heroic figure bringing the gift of light which is used by 1930's style reel-to-reel motion picture cameras held by two male humans.

Conquest of Space features the heroic figure holding an electromagnetic (radio) wave behind his head. He is flanked by a female and a male human figure. The planet Saturn and four gold stars complete the composition.

Gifts of Earth to Mankind has a heroic female figure standing in front of zodiac symbols while holding a sheaf of grain in her right hand. She is flanked by two male humans holding a male baby.

Spirit of Progress has an heroic male figure that has a banner across his chest on which is writtten UNDERSTANDING. He is flanked by two men representing workers.The man on the left is holding what appears to be an air drill in his right hand the other man is holding a  jar or sack in his left hand.

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