Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan

A Historical Guide

by Dianne Durante

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Outdoor Monuments cover

Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're an avid and insatiably curious reader -a tourist - a New Yorker - a historian or history buff - an art lover, art historian or art critic - a gallery owner or museum staff member - a librarian - an Objectivist

About the book (back cover blurb)

Stop, look, and discover-the streets and parks of Manhattan are filled with beautiful historic monuments that will entertain, stimulate, and inspire you. Among the 54 monuments in this volume are major figures in American history: Washington, Lincoln, Lafayette, Horace Greeley, and Gertrude Stein; more obscure figures: Daniel Butterfield, J. Marion Sims, and King Jagiello; as well as the icons of New York: Atlas, Prometheus, and the Firemen's Memorial. The monuments represent the work of some of America's best sculptors: Augustus Saint Gaudens' Farragut and Sherman, Daniel Chester French's Four Continents, and Anna Hyatt Huntington's Jose Marti and Joan of Arc.

Each monument, illustrated with black-and-white photographs, is located on a map of Manhattan and includes easy-to-follow directions. All the sculptures are considered both as historical mementos and as art. We learn of furious General Sherman court-martialing a civilian journalist, and also of exasperated Saint Gaudens' proposing a hook-and-spring device for improving his assistants' artistic acuity as they help model Sherman. We discover how Lincoln dealt with a vociferous Confederate politician from Ohio, and why the Lincoln in Union Square doesn't rank as a top-notch Lincoln portrait. Sidebars reveal other aspects of the figure or event commemorated, using personal quotes, poems, excerpts from nineteenth-century periodicals (New York Times, Harper's Weekly), and writers ranging from Aeschylus, Washington Irving, and Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi to Mark Twain and Henryk Sienkiewicz.

As a historical account, Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide is a fascinating look at figures and events that changed New York, the United States and the world. As an aesthetic handbook it provides a compact method for studying sculpture, inspired by Ayn Rand's writings on art. For residents and tourists, and historians and students, who want to spend more time viewing and appreciating sculpture and New York history, this is the start of a unique voyage of discovery.

Dianne L. Durante is a freelance writer, lecturer, and researcher living in Brooklyn, New York. She is author of Forgotten Delights: The Producers, A Selection of Manhattan's Outdoor Sculpture.

Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're an avid and insatiably curious reader

Outdoor Monuments aims to entertain, stimulate and inspire. Filled with fascinating but little-known stories, it emphasizes the positive aspects of America, Western civilization and capitalism. The book also provides a method for looking at sculpture with an informed and inquisitive eye - it's guaranteed to help you understand art better and enjoy it more.

 Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're a tourist

The 54 sculptures in Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan are among the most beautiful and least known attractions of New York - and free for the looking, even if you're awake at 3 a.m. with jet lag. The only book in print to focus on such sculptures, it has been acclaimed by the New York Times as "a perfect walking-tour accompaniment to help New Yorkers and visitors find, identify and better appreciate statues famous and obscure." If you need help locating the sculptures, they're all conveniently marked on this Google map.

 Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're a New Yorker

There are eight million stories in the Naked City, and some of the most fascinating belong to the bronze and marble figures who stand nearly forgotten in our parks. This book recounts their stories as no other book in print does. (Gayle and Cohen's comprehensive but necessarily terse Art Commission and Municipal Art Society Guide to Manhattan's Outdoor Sculpture, published in 1988, has been out of print for several years. If you have a copy, hang on to it.)

If you're a mass-transit maven, you can visit all 54 of the sculptures in Outdoor Monuments in one moderately frantic day - unless you also use the book for its second purpose, as a handbook for learning to look at sculpture with an informed and inquisitive eye. In that case, you'll have many pleasurable days of discovery ahead of you - and think of all the neighborhoods and restaurants you'll get to explore on the way! On a day when we're dripping with some of our 46" of annual rainfall, you can apply the method in Appendix A ("How to Read a Sculpture") to works in the Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection.

 Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're a historian or history buff

The 54 sculptures covered in Outdoor Monuments include major figures in American history, among them George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Horace Greeley and Gertrude Stein. Numerous fascinating but less familiar figures also make appearances: Daniel Butterfield, J. Marion Sims, Edwin Booth, and King Jagiello, to name a few. Rather than giving a two-paragraph biography of each person's life, Outdoor Monuments focuses on one revealing or thought-provoking episode, researched in primary sources when possible - for example, Sherman's court martial of a journalist and the Vallandingham affair that helped inspire Edward Everett Hale's "The Man Without a Country." Sidebars in each essay offer a lengthy quote from a contemporary periodical or literary work.

Space considerations precluded footnotes and bibliography in Outdoor Monuments, but references plus occasional out-takes are gradually being uploaded to the Forgotten Delights website.

Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're an art lover, art historian, or art critic

The 54 sculptures included in Outdoor Monuments were chosen for artistic merit, for the fascination of their subjects, or both. Among them are works by top-notch sculptors such as Augustus Saint Gaudens, Daniel Chester French, John Quincy Adams Ward, and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Sculpture magazine referred to the book as "a useful tool to those seeking concise yet wide-ranging information on Manhattan's many historical public works."

But the book is more than a historical survey of important American sculptors. As a primer for how to look at sculpture (from the significance of a gesture to the purpose of sculpture) with an informed and inquisitive eye, it will increase your ability to understand and enjoy any sculpture. Appendix A, "How to Read a Sculpture," is a methodical list of stimulating questions to ask of a sculpture, and conveniently refers the reader to specific essays where the questions are considered in more detail.

Outdoor Monuments relies for its esthetic theory on the writings of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged andThe Fountainhead. It is the first book-length analysis of sculpture based on Rand's esthetics, and even those who disagree with Rand's theories will find much food for thought in the discussions about the nature and purpose of art.

 Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're a gallery owner or a museum staff member

Visitors and potential buyers are more likely to linger if they can think actively about what they see, rather than struggling to absorb and retain someone else's interpretation. Outdoor Monuments is a primer for how to look at sculpture with an informed and inquisitive eye, and will increase anyone's ability to understand and enjoy any sculpture.

 Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're a librarian

Outdoor Monuments is a multi-purpose book. The appeal to tourists is obvious: it has been acclaimed by the New York Times as "a perfect walking-tour accompaniment to help New Yorkers and visitors find, identify and better appreciate statues famous and obscure." The book will also be useful for historians and art lovers who may never visit Manhattan. Each of the essays has a section on the sculpture as a historical memento, in which fascinating figures and events are described with infectious enthusiasm. A sidebar offers a lengthy comment on the person or event represented, often from the 19th-c. New York Times, Harper's Weekly, or a contemporary biography.

The sections dealing with the sculpture as a work of art - inspired by Ayn Rand's writings on aesthetics - tackle issues that range from specific details of pose, costume and setting to broader questions such as the nature of art and why two viewers might react very differently to a particular work. Appendix A, "How to Read a Sculpture," outlines a method by which readers can study art on their own, in New York or their home town. Appendix C offers short biographies of dozens of artists, noting their most important works and listing all their works on display outdoors in New York.

Why you need Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan if you're an Objectivist

This is the first book-length analysis of sculpture based on Ayn Rand's theories of esthetics. It argues intransigently in favor of representational works over abstract "art," and "chews" such topics as metaphysical value-judgments and the nature and purpose of art. Aside from the theoretical aspects, fans of Ayn Rand will enjoy the fact that Outdoor Monuments exudes a love of capitalism and Western civilization. Its pages are crowded with inspiring men - among them some of the 19th century's greatest innovators and businessmen - whose efforts changed New York, the United States and the world.

See also the Forgotten Delights blog entry, "Why Ayn Rand's esthetics is the basis for my writing on art."