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Fountain of Time CRWR

Story Arc:

A very interesting piece of non-fiction work could center of Lorado Tafts two
contrasting perspectives on sculpting. One the one hand, he was conservative in his
attitude against some of the aspects of modern art described further down as outlined
in his Modern Tendencies in Sculpture. On the other hand, Taft is considered a very
liberal artist because of his encouragement for women sculptors to be involved in the
Chicago World Fair of 1893 and because of his willingness to experiment with his
sculpting methods. It seems as if Taft was so concerned with the meaning of a work of art
by itself that he did not care about how it came about or how what its role was in
society. Nothing else mattered for the work the artist, the time-period, materials, or any
other aspect of the piece besides its actual thesis. Taft did not see any true meaning in
most works of modern art and therefore was heavily against the movement. Perhaps it
was the idea that in modern art, the meaning of the work comes less through the actual
piece itself and more from the way it is presented. Most works of modern art are meant to
shock the viewer with immediate clashing colors or sharp metal angles, leaving little
room for thought afterwards. It is almost as if an artist who has created a work of modern
art has done so not because he had a thesis in mind or because he wanted to convey his
impression of a scene but solely because he is an artist and it is his job to create these
astounding, meaning-gilded works that serve only as propaganda for the ushering in a
modern mindset. Obviously, this does not apply to all modern art as some of the most
philosophical and intellectual men of the 19
th
and 20
th
centuries started this movement
but it has certainly been exploited.
The Fountain of Time plays perfectly into Tafts split personality because it
reflects both his conservative and liberal approaches to sculpting. The first layer of the
fountain is conveyed through its title, Fountain of Time, and through the work it is based
upon, Dobsons Paradox of Time. This layer reflects mans apprehension toward times
inconsiderate tendency to progress without hesitation. Taft, living at the turn of the 20
th

century, is on the line between two different ages. He is, however, unwilling to move into
the new era as mindlessly as some of the world around him has. Particularly, his biggest
fear comes from the new ages tendency to shun the intellectual aspect of art and focus
more on its physical, shock-inducing side. Therefore, Taft could be seen as the subject of
Dobsons poem and of his own sculpture because he is having difficulty accepting that
time will move on with or without his input.
The Fountain of Time also illustrates Tafts progressive side because of his
willingness to experiment with sculpting methods. Taft, for financial reasons, used
concrete to build the Fountain of Time and it is considered to be the first finished work of
art made from concrete. It is interesting to think that man who disliked modern art would
also experiment with new sculpting methods. However, this makes sense if one considers
that Taft was concerned with the thesis behind a work of art and not with how it came
about. Essentially, Taft knew that the modern art movement was created uniquely out of
the desire to get rid of previous traditions and to begin new ones. To him, though, this
was a dangerous mindset because it was not something genuine: a work of modern art did
not mean something in itself but only served to bring about change.
My story would focus around the notion of the need for change during the early
20
th
century and Tafts reluctance to follow. A nice touch to the story could also come
from the complicated conservation efforts over the Fountain of Times concrete structure.
This could reflect how Taft and Dobson were right in that time eventually erases the
meaning behind any single individuals beliefs. Perhaps its degradation is sign that it is
time to move on from Tafts classical tendencies and completely confront the modern era.
Furthermore, Taft located his statue in the Midway to revive the area after its downfall at
the end of the World Fair. The Columbian Exposition was the center of new ideas and
inventions - a sign of the wonders of the future - that transformed Hyde Park into an area
of brilliance for a few months and then left it barren. Taft, involved with in the World
Fair, returned to the Midway after seeing the evils that could come along with an
advancing age, and placed his Fountain of Time here, maybe in the form of an apology or
as a sign of his resigning to the new age.

Basic Storyline: Tafts developing into an artist and his productivity in Chicago
contrasted with the World Fair and the rest of the hyper-development of the city and
America. A large part would be his role in the Chicago World Fair, then the Midways
demise and later his attempt with the Fountain of Time to revive the area.


Resources:

1. Taft, Lorado. The History of American Sculpture,. New York: Macmillan, 1924.
Print. This book by Taft would serve as a great resource to the authors own
insight
2. Taft, Lorado. Modern Tendencies in Sculpture. Chicago, IL: Published for the Art
Institute of Chicago by the University of Chicago, 1921. Print. This work could
serve as a first-hand account of Tafts aversion to modern sculpture and art
3. Taft, Ada Bartlett. Lorado Taft, Sculptor and Citizen,. Greensboro, NC: [Mary T.
Smith], 1946. Print. Also a good account of Lorado Taft by his wife.
4. Photo essay on the Fountain of Time by Public Art in Chicago http://chicago-
outdoor-sculptures.blogspot.com/2009/08/fountain-of-time.html
5. Khl, Isabel. 50 Sculptures You Should Know. Munich: Prestel, 2009. Print.
6. Rich, Jack C. The Materials and Methods of Sculpture. New York: Oxford Univ.,
1947. Print. This book is a good resource for the fact that Taft used concrete to
build the Fountain of Time. Taft and his fountain are even mentioned a few times
in this book.
7. Fountain of Time Analysis by Lee Price on the Tour of Americas Treasures blog
http://touramericastreasures.blogspot.com/2013/02/fountain-of-time.html