Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Sabin Howard's A Soldier's Journey—Centerpiece of the National World War One Memorial in Washington, DC.

All Images Can Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them

Models for the Combat Section

In 2017 we presented an article by our British correspondent Patrick Gregory on the progress made by artist Sabin Howard on his centerpiece 60-foot-long freestanding high-relief bronze for the new World War One memorial.  Please take a look at Patrick's article. It stands the test of time with much information on the the artist's philosophy and the technology he planned to use to create the massive sculpture, which will be the largest of its type in the western hemisphere.

Current State of the Construction During the Shutdown
To the Rear of the Camera, One Block Away, Is the White House

Artist Sabin Howard with a Mock-Up of the Sculpture

However, in the ensuing two and a half years there's much new information come available about A  Soldier's Journey.  On 3 April, I was invited to view a webinar on the status on the memorial which is now under construction. The report included updates from the engineers and construction managers, as well as a report from lead designer Joe Weishaar.  Joe did a wonderful job of describing  how the final design has evolved.  In my view, the final version has come out simpler but more elegant and stroll-inducing than the 2016 initial proposal. I think it will draw more traffic in this configuration. That said, the reputation and public perception of the quality of the new memorial will be based almost entirely on Sabin Howard's creation. In a realistic, non-abstract style that young and old can readily understand, it dynamically tells its story moving progressively left to right. The more I'm exposed to his design, the more I'm convinced he has come up with an inspiring theme that honors with grandeur the Doughboys and the nation's experience in the war.

I've downloaded some images from the webinar and the accompanying documentary film to show what will be coming in over the next three years as the park is completed and A Soldier's Journey is phased in.  I found myself very excited as I listened to Mr. Howard describe his work.

These Are the Models for the "Returning Home" Section
The Young Lady on the Right Is the Artist's Daughter

Father Duffy Conducts a Burial Ceremony in France

Real-life models  of the works 38 human figures are used throughout the multi-step design process.  Armatures of each figure will be created using 3-D printing by a firm in England. They will be returned to the U.S. where Sabin will sculpt the finished figures in clay.  The clay figures will be then cast in bronze. This, of course, will be quite time consuming. Depending on when construction can resume, the full park site should be completed in about a year and will be opened to the public. A Soldier's Journey will be phased in and is hoped to be fully installed by late 2023 or early 2024.

Phasing-in Scheme, First Installation

To listen to Sabin Howard discuss his work, I highly recommend this 14-minute documentary, which also includes comments by Americans whose relatives served in the war and some of the best period photographs I've seen.  

1 comment:

  1. This shows the GREATNESS that IS America... no one man can make it or take it away. It will always be with us...