THE STATUE OF LIBERTY by Marvin Trachtenberg


Email this review


She was conceived as a French political ploy with imperialist undertones but she became the very personification of the U.S. And even if you don't give a tinker's damn about either nationalistic iconography or monumental sculpture, Trachtenberg, an art historian, tells a good story. Admittedly, she is no beauty. ""What is of most interest about the monument is everything but pure sculptural form: Liberty's origins, patronage and public; symbolism, colossal scale and spectacular setting."" It seems that the artist, Auguste Bartholdi, never quite got over his voyage up the Nile: his aesthetic (if it can be called one) passion was for the colossal. According to Trachtenberg, Liberty was the culmination of a movement, fueled by cultural materialism and nationalistic pride. You will probably recollect that by the time she arrived here, sans pedestal, no one cared to spring for one. She sat moldering in her 200-odd packing crates until Joseph Pulitzer extracted enough pennies from his subscribers' children to finish the job. Nobody likes her anymore especially since Watergate (wearing blackface and a mini-skirt, she is currently the butt of Red Grooms' satire in his one-man lower Manhattan show)--but there she is, unemployed, no longer greeting immigrants, but still, for what she's worth, Miss America.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Viking