When I first read about the "Four Periods of Publicity," I imagined a series of figures illustrating the fame or notoriety of a single person or event: the equivalent of watching Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" come and go. Instead, the figures show how knowledge was disseminated through the ages. The sequence runs from right to left. I've reversed the order for the photos here.
The limestone from which these figures were carved is wearing down, and the sculptures are stained by run-off from copper elements on the building's façade, so it's a challenge to spot the attributes that identify the figures.
From the sources I've consulted so far, it's not clear whether Borglum and Kohn collaborated on these four sculptures or whether each did one or more separate sculptures. The Garrison Building at 20 Vesey Street was constructed for the New York Evening Post (founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1801), which had offices and a press there until 1926 - hence the themes of the press and publicity on the facade.
The printing theme continues on the façade of 20 Vesey Street with reproductions of devices of early printers (similar to modern trademarks) set on the horizontal bands between the floors. At the level nearest the sculptures it the most famous of these, Aldus Manutius' entwined dolphin and anchor, symbolizing speed of production combined with steadiness of purpose.
Aldus had this charming notice above the entrance to his shop in Venice:
For these identifications, I'm extraordinarily grateful to Fred Schreiber of E.K. Schreiber Rare Books, who is a font of knowledge on sixteenth-century books.
Gutzon Borglum (John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, 1867-1941) is most famous for the gigantic presidential heads at Mount Rushmore, executed from 1927 to the early 1940s. New York City has several of his earlier works: General Daniel Butterfield, a series of apostles at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Amsterdam Ave. between 111th and 112th Streets), and Henry Ward Beecher (Orange St. between Hicks and Henry, Brooklyn Heights). The Metropolitan Museum has two of his works. (Type "Borglum" into their site's search engine.) Newark has no less than four of his sculptures, including the substantial Wars of America. Elsewhere Borglum did pieces ranging from Salome and Nero to anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. He is also famous for an unfinished work: a relief at Stone Mountain, Georgia, that would have been 120 feet high and a quarter of a mile long. In 1925, after critics slighted his portrayal of Robert E. Lee, Borglum halted work on the project and destroyed the models.
Borglum was well known for his outspoken opinions. The Armory Show, held in February and March 1913, introduced New Yorkers to "modern" art from Europe. In a speech at the Cooper Union that March, Borglum condemned it as
that farcical and foolish exhibition made up largely of paranoiacs. All the interest centred in the cubists. People rushed by the thousands to see them, and I say it was a shame and a crime the way the newspapers paid so little attention comparatively to the good work in the exhibition, for there was a lot of good work hung there. The woman coming down stairs! What nonsense! What insolence! A friend of mine said it looked more like stairs coming down a woman. Matisse has been quoted as saying that his eight-year-old son painted as well as he did. My faith, I believe it. -- Borglum, New York Times 3/29/1913
Click here for Teddy Roosevelt's comments on the 1913 Armory exhibition.