Jose Marti


May 19, 1895: Death of Jose Marti

Marti (1853-1895), a major force in the movement for Cuban independence from Spain, lived in exile New York from 1880 to 1895. Early in 1895 he returned to Cuba and was given an honorary rank in the revolutionary army. He insisted on being on the front lines at the battle of Dos Rios, where he suffered a fatal bullet wound.

Like Joan of Arc, of whom New York boasts another wonderful Huntington sculpture, Marti is more to be admired for the courage of his convictions than for the convictions themselves. He praised liberty without any notion of  the requirements for gaining and keeping it, and was a thorough-going collectivist, altruist and socialist:

Talent is a gift that brings with it an obligation to serve the world, and not ourselves, for it is not of our making. To use for our exclusive benefit what is not ours is theft. Culture, which makes talent shine, is not completely ours either, nor can we place it solely at our disposal. Rather, it belongs mainly to our country, which gave it to us, and to humanity, from which we receive it as a birthright. A selfish man is a thief. -- Marti

A few quotes that I can get behind, in a limited context:

Like stones rolling down hills, fair ideas reach their objectives despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to speed or hinder them, but impossible to stop them.

To busy oneself with what is futile when one can do something useful, to attend to what is simple when one has the mettle to attempt what is difficult, is to strip talent of its dignity.

More excerpts by Marti are available here.

This moment

The statue of Marti is radically different from most sculptures of soldiers, in that it shows him at the moment of his death rather than a moment of triumph. (Think, for contrast, of Sherman or Sheridan.) If you agree with Ayn Rand’s view that art helps men focus on matters of fundamental importance, what are you meant to think about when viewing Marti? And how would your life change if you focused on that?

Anna Hyatt Huntington

This was Anna Hyatt Huntington’s last major work, finished when she was 82 years old. Aside from the Joan of Arc on Riverside Drive mentioned above, she also produced the full set of sculpture for the Hispanic Society, including the magnificent Cid. Many more of her sculptures are on display at Brookgreen Sculpture Gardens in Murrells Inlet, S.C. Founded by Anna and her husband Archer Huntington, Brookgreen remains America's largest outdoor sculpture garden, displaying only representational sculpture.

Further Reading