We've recently had a flurry of really engaging and wonderful conversations here on Ricochet about art and beauty, so I thought I'd draw everyone's attention to a great review of the book, "Triumvirate: McKim, Mead, and White," that appears in today's Wall Street Journal. Though reviewer James Gardner gives the book--which is about the three men behind one of the greatest architectural firms in history--poor marks, his review itself is worth a read, as it delivers a brief, but comprehensive, education on three towering turn of the century American architects, Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford Mead, and Stanford White. These men made it their lives' mission to create beauty in our nation's major cities.
McKim, Mead, and White were behind some stunning and famous buildings. Here are some of their masterpieces:
Washington Arch at Washington Square Park in NYC
The Boston Public Library
Part of the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
The Manhattan Municipal Building (where they combined their high classical style with modern elements)
Out of the firm's improvisational riffs beauty was born, in the form of a gleaming classical vision that reached its apogee with the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. It was there, in collaboration with the architect Daniel Burnham, that McKim, Mead & White launched what became known as the City Beautiful movement. The movement's radiant classicism and grand planning enjoyed a long and influential life. Its finest flowering in New York was the McKim, Mead & White-designed Columbia University campus built at the turn of the century, but a close second—although in a different style—was Lincoln Center, conceived and completed more than a half- century later.
The City Beautiful Movement was about dignifying human beings through aesthetic beauty. By surrounding the inhabitants of a city with beautiful buildings, these architects reasoned, they were contributing to the common good, ennobling people, and promoting virtuous living.
Can you think of a major artist or architect today who takes such a divine and transcendent approach to their craft?