Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rites of Spring

Rites of Spring, 1952
Milton Horn
Lincoln Park Zoo, near antelope, zebra and kangaroo exhibits
2200 North Cannon Drive

            This terra cotta bas-relief is one of two identical panels originally created for display at the portico entrance of the Seneca-Walton Apartment building. In the late 1960s, when the building was demolished, the artworks disappeared. They were not re-located until the 1990s, when they were discovered in the causeway of a residential building on Irving Park Road. Remarkably, these were not the only sculptures by Milton Horn to have gone missing: his 1954 Chicago Rising from the Lake was lost following the demolition of a parking facility on West Wacker Drive in 1983 and was not restored to public view until 1998.
            Because the artist had expressed his desire that Rites of Spring remain accessible to the public, especially children, the Milton Horn Art Trust donated this panel to the Lincoln Park Zoo and it was installed there in 2004. The other panel is undergoing conservation and will be donated to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
            Influenced by his time spent creating art with support from the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal, Horn was dismissive of many of his Modernist contemporaries, including Jackson Pollock and Alexander Calder, and he remained committed to his style of robust figures and heavy symbolism throughout his career. Here he depicts Pan, god of fields, forests, shepherds, flocks and rustic music, as he plays his flute for a ram. 
          Other prominent examples of his work created for the city of Chicago include The Spirit of Jewish Philanthropy, 1958, now on display inside the headquarters of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and Hymn to Water, 1966, located in the lobby of the Administration building of the James W. Jardine Water Purification Plant. His bust of A. Montgomery Ward is located in Grant Park.

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