Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves
is a history of race in America as seen through the depiction of slavery in sculptures and monuments. Kirk Savage, an assistant professor of art history at the University of Pittsburgh, shows that blacks were seldom depicted in sculpture until after the Civil War, at which time there was a nationwide impetus to commemorate the end of the war and emancipation. Savage considers these statues and monuments to be a lost opportunity: instead of representing a new sense of race in America, the statues featured old stereotypes, the "kneeling slaves" of the title. Far more common were statues featuring ordinary soldiers. The great irony, Savage argues in this thought-provoking book, is that black soldiers--who "were most clearly representative of a national purpose," the fight for equality--were seldom represented in celebratory monuments.
From Library Journal
Boldly investigating the meaning of race, the experience of war, and the function of the public monument, Savage (history of art and architecture, Univ. of Pittsburgh) probes the landscape of collective memory on which the art forms of commemoration in the public sphere depicted the shift from slavery to freedom in post-Civil War America, the greatest era of U.S. monument building. The author brilliantly illuminates the cultural and artistic problems in the representational battleground of public space as groups competed to construct history in the language of sculpture. His astute observations reveal not only the theoretical foundation of racism embedded in sculpture but the importance of the aesthetic dimension of racial theory. This tour de force is for any serious collection on U.S. history, art, architecture, or race relations. Highly recommended.?Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.