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Liberty in Distress, World War I Memorial, Atlantic City, New Jersey, the work of Frederick William MacMonnies
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Liberty in Distress[edit]

Liberty in Distress and her casualties stand in a Carrère and Hastings-designed temple as a leftover from Atlantic City's comparatively glorious past. With exceptional foresight the fathers and authorities of Atlantic City commissioned their World War I memorial before the war even started.

Controversy kicked up when the fathers and authorities of Atlantic City discovered that MacMonnies' Liberty in Distress, which they felt they'd bought and paid for, was a close reinterpretation of another MacMonnies work, France Aroused. No word on whether MacMonnies offered any discounts after he'd been found out.

According to the 1939 Federal Writers' Project New Jersey, a Guide to Its Present and Past:

Liberty, naked but for knotted garments hanging from her elbows, her feet mired in writhen corpses, supports an inert male figure across her right thigh. Her distress is the one matter about which there is no question whatever.

Falling Bronze Bust Injures Own Subject[edit]

In May 1932, the sculptor and Harvard modelling instructor John A. Wilson showed two bronze busts in exhibition. One was of William Crowninshield Endicott, a former Secretary of War under Grover Cleveland. The other was a bust of George Archambeau.

To many in Cambridge the face on that second bust was familiar, but the last name wasn't. George had been the well-known janitor of Robinson Hall for more than 25 years and regarded with affection.

At work in October 1937 Archambeau closed a bottom drawer in the secretary's office, which rocked the cabinet, which toppled the bust of Archambeau on top of the cabinet. The bronze object proved harder and denser than its subject on the way down, then tore a gash in the linoleum floor. A Crimson article of October 5 ("FALLING BRONZE BUST INJURES OWN SUBJECT") said "George put his hands to his head, and took them away covered with blood. President Conant, who happened to be nearby, rushed him to the Hygiene Building to be bandaged up. Today he is back at his job but not by much."

On Over-classification[edit]

It has been my aim not to overstress "isms" -- Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Futurism -- so as not to deflect you from looking at the pictures. Over-emphasis on "isms," the habit of labeling and pigeonholing every artist, while a convenient device for the superficial, is a misleading and dangerous practice, in its oversimplification, in its implied insistence on one phase only of an artist's production. The practice tends to distract us from a full visual appreciation of the inherent merit, the individuality of a genius and ignores the conflicting counter-currents that usually underlie distinguished creation, the kind of creation that outlives the fashion of the moment and makes a work of art lasting and timeless.

-- Paul J. Sachs, Modern Prints & Drawings