The Making of a Bronze Statue – From the Met Vaults
How do you make a monument? I was mesmerised by this short film which was produced by the Met Museum in 1922 and perfectly preserved, along with its explanatory placards, as an example not just of the process of making a bronze statue but inadvertently, of the advanced state of documentary film-making in the 1920s.
This film follows the American artist Alexander Phimister Proctor’s process of sculpting Theodore Roosevelt, from creating a small clay sketch and a plaster model through casting the final form in bronze using the famous lost-wax method.
The work was unveiled in Portland, Oregon, where it remained until it was toppled by demonstrators on Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage in October 2020.
As the role of monuments and public memory remain central to conversations about national character, a wide variety of contemporary artists have started to investigate the complicated histories of celebrated figures and to ask how and why we uphold certain narratives over others. When this film was made, nobody was asking those questions.
This documentary is a real historical treasure. We are fortunate that it has been so carefully preserved and now digitized.
The film is accompanied by a new musical score, composed and performed by Ben Model.
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