IN WHICH I PLAY ART CRITIC

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized

The US medal commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 is now available to order.  And do you remember how I mentioned before that I was leaning toward liking this design?  Well now I’m leaning away from liking it.

Before I address why, let me emphasize the difficulty if not the impossibility of creating a work of art to commemorate an event like this one.  Anything anyone comes up with will find more than a few detractors, people who will loudly declare that the design doesn’t come close to commemorating the importance of the event.

That said, I think this design falls short for three reasons:

(1) There is simply too much going on here.  American coin, medal and seal design tends to cram in as much symbolism as it possibly can in hopes that something beautiful results.  More often than not, it ends up looking like a busy mess.

(2) When a country issues a commemorative medal, it would be nice to know exactly what is supposed to be commemorated thereon.  “Always remember” the decade between 2001 and 2011?  Why? 

Lots of events happened during that period.  George W. Bush was reelected president.  Barack Obama was elected president.  And most important of all, the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 World Series.  Exactly what are we supposed to remember here?

(3) The art on this medal is more than a little…awkward.  That eagle is supposed to be flying toward cascading water.  But if I hadn’t been told that, it would look for all the world like that eagle was about to fly into a chain-link fence.

All that said, am I still going to buy one or two copies of this?  Of course.

5 Comments to IN WHICH I PLAY ART CRITIC

Russell T. Barr
June 22, 2011

I ordered two, one from each mint. They will not ship until sometime in August. Here is a discussion of the alternative designs:

http://news.coinupdate.com/national-september-eleventh-memorial-museum-commemorative-medal-design-review-0709/

At least they did not pick the one of the twin dinner fork designs. “No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time” is kinda wordy, but captures the feelings of so many. But “Hope Honor” is better than “Hope and Change.”

RT Barr

Dr. Mabuse
June 23, 2011

What is the deal with the forks? They appear on several of the proposed designs, so they must be some sort of ‘accepted’ icon of something or other. They don’t look like the buildings, and they don’t look like a shorthand version of the term “9/11″. One looks like it has wings at the bottom, which might argue that they’re planes, but that would mean they’re planes plowing head-downward into the ground. My best guess is that they’re the Twin Towers turned into trees, which would be entirely typical of the idiotic “windchimes and drifting leaves” theme that always turns up when the need for “remembrance” arises. I prefer something like James Lilek’s description of a suitable memorial: a granite obelisk in a fountain watched over by stern eagles, but nobody goes for that sort of jut-jawed reverence anymore. Instead, we sigh and sway and have our little weeps then drift away with our feelings and no actions. I don’t like any of these sappy designs.

Geosez
June 23, 2011

My first impression was that the medal said “Honor hope” which sounds like a re-election slogan to me. Plus the eagle looks like he’s about to grab the word “honor” as if the word were a trout! I agree with you — too much going on. Not obvious what we’re honoring.

J.M. Heinrichs
June 23, 2011

1. The ‘forks’ are a representation of the exterior column pattern on WTC #1 and #2. As per the following:
http://www.toxicdrums.com/pics/world-trade-center/wtc-ruins.jpg
2. The oak leaves motif is quite amusing because the phrase coming to mind is “ACER ACERPORI’, which unfortunately refers to maples and Army cadets. However, “Heart of Oak” might be invoked, except for its association with the Royal Navy (and the RCN).
3. “No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time” sounds like a 5-4 committee decision, but at least they sidestepped “Je me souviens”.

Cheers

Bart
June 24, 2011

If you buy the commemorative plate from the Franklin Mint instead, you get a free Salad Shooter.

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