26 March 2007

Belle Kinney

Matthew got back from NY on Saturday night, and with him came a pile of books I'd specially requested. I'm in heaven, partly because new books are a rarity and partly because these particular books are so very interesting. The one I'm reading right now is G. Kurt Piehler's Remembering War the American Way, which is indeed thesis related. In the introduction (I can't understand why I always skipped the preface/introduction when I was younger. Increasingly I find these sections remarkably useful) I found a reference to yet another book, which will doubtless be added to my library some time soon. The title grabbed me at once--Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscape of Southern Memory. Women, it appears, were the ones who organized and advocated for Confederate commemoration. Eager for more information, I googled it, and found a review overflowing in details about the text (enough detail, even that I've decided I probably am ok NOT citing it in my research, which means I don't have to import it, for which my pocketbook is already heaving a sigh of relief). In one particularly useful section, the review catalogued the artists named in the book, who are responsible for many a monument to the 'Lost Cause' (ie. US Civil War). And among them, one woman was named.

Belle Kinney was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1890 and later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. She taught there for a time. Her sculptures, almost all of them in bronze, are scattered around the nation. Here's an incomplete list of her work:

Statue of Jere Baxter, Jere Baxter School Nashville
Monuments to the Women of the Confederacy, Nashville
Monuments to the Women of the Confederacy, Jackson, Mississippi
Statue of Andrew Jackson at the U.S. Capitol
Statue of John Sevier at the U.S. Capitol
Bust of Admiral Albert Gleaves at Annapolis
Bust of Andrew Jackson at the Tennessee State Capitol
Bust of James K. Polk at the Tennessee State Capitol
Bust of Alexander P. Stewart
Statue of Richard Owen in the Indiana State University (pictured here)
The Bronx County (WWI) Memorial
Pediment sculptures of the Nashville Parthenon (based on the original Greek)

She is generally remembered as Tennessee's best sculptor, and for a few decades there, anyone who was anyone in the state's past or present had their likeness rendered by her. She is one among a few women who executed the monuments that the United Daughters of the Confederacy promoted with such tenacity. Somehow, that seems fitting.


Dad said...

How do such great scuplturers go without appropriate recognition? Is it the fault of the artistic world or are there just too many notable artists for everyone to get the recognition they are really due?

Mary Ann said...

I think all the unrecognized, skilled painters and sculptors are good evidence that being able to paint of sculpt is not enough. In part, Kinney isn't well remembered because she was outside the mainstream of avant-garde art (did I really just put avant-garde and mainstream together?). Perhaps you've hit the nail on the head. Maybe there are too many skilled artists, and for that reason recognition is derived from other achievements.