The Wall vs. "Three Soldiers"
"The black gash of shame and sorrow."
This wall is a memorial to sacrifice. The "purpose" of
that wall, wrote the New Republic, is "to impress upon the visitor the sheer
human waste, the utter meaninglessness of it all...To treat the Vietnam dead
like some monstrous traffic accident is more than a disservice to history; it is
a disservice to the memory of the 57,000 [killed in Vietnam]."
"....a V-shaped wall, period, a wall of polished black
granite inscribed only with the names; no mention of honor, courage or
gratitude; not even a flag. Absolutely
skillproof, it was. Many veterans were furious. They regarded [Maya Ying Lin's]
wall as a gigantic pitiless tombstone that said, ''Your so-called service was an
absolutely pointless disaster.'' They made so much noise that a compromise was
struck. An American flag and statue would be added to the site. Hart was chosen
to do the statue.
Naturally enough, Lin was miffed at the intrusion, and
so a make-peace get-together was arranged in Plainview, N.Y., where the foundry
had just completed casting the soldiers. Doing her best to play the part, Lin
asked Hart -- as Hart recounted it -- if the young men used as models for the
three soldiers had complained of any pain when the plaster casts were removed
from their faces and arms. Hart couldn't imagine what she was talking about.
Then it dawned on him. She assumed that he had followed the lead of the
ingenious art worldling George Segal, who had contrived a way of sculpturing the
human figure without any skill whatsoever: by covering the model's body in wet
plaster and removing it when it began to harden. No artist of her generation
(she was 21) could even conceive of a sculptor starting out solely with a
picture in his head, a stylus, a brick of moist clay and some armature wire. No
artist of her generation dared even speculate about . . . skill."
The Lives They Lived: Frederick Hart, b. 1943; The
Artist the Art World Couldn't See
by Tom Wolfe
Reprinted from The New York Times Magazine, January 2, 2000
Click image for large view.
Heroes Against The Wall
Vietnam Veteran James Webb Jr., a Marine Platoon leader
awarded the Navy Cross, resigned from the National Sponsoring Committee of the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, to protest the memorial design.
He said “I never in my
wildest dreams imagined such a nihilistic slab of stone.”
Tom Carhart, a veteran and outspoken opponent of the minimilistic design referred to it as "the black gash of shame and sorrow". it commemorates the war "as some ugly, dirty experience of which we were all ashamed." Cahart, a West Point graduate who led an infantry platoon of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, and received two Purple Hearts was in 1981 a civilian lawyer at the Pentagon.
Adm. James Stockdale, a prisoner of war awarded the
Medal of Honor, also resigned.
The Marine Corps League withdrew its support for the
memorial as insulting and denigrating those who came home from Vietnam and those
who did not.
"Three Soldiers" by Frederick Hart
" A trio of tired
soldiers...of warriors larger than life."
(Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe,
"Mr. Hart is a sculptor in
the 'neo-traditional' mode, which means you can tell what the sculpture is about
merely by looking at it. The three soldiers look like three soldiers,
tired and heroic."
(Ben Wattenberg, The Washington
"Hart captured in stone
something vivid, urgent, and alive."
(David C. Adams, The Free Radical
"...there is about them the physical
contact and sense of unity that speaks of bonds of love....
And yet each one is alone. Their true heroism lies in these bonds of
in their aloneness, and in their vulnerability." (Frederick Hart)
Compiled by Robert
Tracy. June 1, 2011.