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On Saturday, June 9, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design will offer programs in conjunction with the 150th anniversary celebration of the birth of Cyrus Dallin.
MFA Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture Gerald Ward will present three 20-minute Spotlight Talks featuring Dallin’s “Appeal to the Great Spirit” at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. The talks will take place at the “Appeal,” which is located outside the MFA's Huntington Avenue entrance in the Bank of America Plaza.
At 3:30 p.m., adjunct Massachusetts College of Art and Design faculty member Lugh Giacomozzi will lead a guided tour of the College’s studios for clay modeling and methods of casting, and library director Paul Dobbs will give a short talk about the works by Dallin and his students on display in the College’s Godine Library.
The Spotlight Talks are free with MFA admission, and there is no charge for the program at MassArt. The programs are being offered as part of a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of Dallin’s birth, organized by the Cyrus E. Dallin Art Museum in Arlington.
With public monuments across America, Dallin was one of the most important sculptors in the first half of the 20th century. His sculptures “Paul Revere” and “Appeal to the Great Spirit” have long been used to represent Boston and the MFA to the larger world. “Appeal to the Great Spirit” is considered by many to be one of the most iconic sculptures in the history of American art. The life-size equestrian figure of a defeated Sioux Chief seeking divine assistance from the Great Spirit was once as popular as the “Statue of Liberty.” A smaller version of “Appeal” is in the permanent collection of the White House, and during his terms in office, President Bill Clinton selected the sculpture to adorn the Oval Office. In the Spotlight Talks, MFA Curator Gerald Ward will discuss the circumstances leading up to the installation of Dallin’s “Appeal” at the MFA in 1911 and the impact of this and other works by Dallin on American art and culture.
In 1900, Dallin took a position as a sculpture instructor at the Massachusetts Normal Art School, now known as the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt). Affectionately called “Cyrus the Great” by his students, Dallin was a beloved teacher and mentor to hundreds of students. He taught at the school for over 40 years while also managing his own successful career as a sculptor from his home in Arlington. The artistic discipline he taught throughout those years can be described simply as, “Modelling from Antique and Life; Composition in Relief and in the Round.” Among his many colleagues in the faculty of the MassArt were the creator of what remains today the world’s most-used color system, Albert Munsell, and the well-known painters Edward Hamilton, Ernest Major, Joseph deCamp and Richard Andrew. Dallin retired in 1941 at the age of 80. Because MassArt was a teacher’s training school and some level of three-dimensional fine arts was in almost every Massachusetts school curriculum, it is safe to say that he influenced thousands.
MassArt’s Godine Library is currently exhibiting a plaster cast of Dallin’s “General George Washington” and works by three of Dallin’s students, Bashka Paef, Donald Plummer and Albert Petitto. The students’ works on exhibit will include plasters of relief sculptures by Paef, Class of 1911, (whose bronzes can be viewed in Kittery Maine, the Massachusetts Statehouse, Boston Garden and Boston University), an outline drawing by Plummer, Class of 1930, to illustrate Dallin’s proposal that General George Washington be installed in Arlington, and a small bronze sculpture by Petitto, Class of 1944, as well as his design for the helmet still in use by the United States armed services.
The Museum of Fine Arts is located at 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. For admission information and directions visit www.mfa.org. The Massachusetts College of Art and Design is located at 621 Huntington Ave. Boston, www.massart.edu. The Cyrus Dallin Art Museum is the only museum dedicated solely to the preservation, study, and enjoyment of the work of the celebrated American sculptor Cyrus Dallin, who lived and worked in Arlington for over 40 years. For directions and a full list of Dallin 150th anniversary programs and events, visit www.dallin.org. Contact the museum at 781-641-0747 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information or to arrange a group tour.