Statues High Up
The Statues of Limitations
Ah life. So interesting, most of the time, but oh, the sweet mysteries that exist, so puzzling to think about, often impossible to understand. For example, in all my years of wandering about our spinning rock in the firmaments, I’ve never, not once, been able to understand why old statues are so often placed impossibly high above our heads. I mean way, way high up there. They stand nobly atop domes and higher stanchions, cathedrals, skyscrapers, sometimes on mountain tops, on top of huge obelisks, or they are found on the rooftops of imposing historic buildings.
People say, “oh but you can see them up close from an airplane.” Well look, here’s the deal on that, folks--- many of these ancient statues were carved and installed way before airplanes were even built, and once built, few of them could even fly very high. Yes, the early flying machines were maybe sketched out on parchment by dreamers, but were not assembled until much later.
So why did those sculptors place their statues up so high? Oh, and also, how?? I get the power trip of having one’s sculptured art work in a noble stance above the clouds, or maybe it’s even a religious thing —you know, their sculpts being close to God and all. Sadly, we mortals down on the sidewalks can’t see the intricate work put into those statues; you know, like the design of their togas, or buttons or eye twinkles or do’s, dimples and warts. Yes, we can use binoculars to view those statues so far above us, but I just never carry mine with me. And unless I happen to also be using a sturdy tripod, my binoculars would wobble so much I’d end up being not so enraptured by the sculptor’s work, but would instead be nauseous. And believe me, no one likes to be around me then.
Further, I’m not a flyer, but planes aren’t allowed to fly close to statues on buildings, are they? Or even the buildings themselves? Seems as if there must be a rule.
One of the most notable statues elevated where no one can see even a single detail, is the statue of William Penn, the man who discovered Pennsylvania, carved by Alexander Milne Calder in 1901, on top of the Philadelphia City Hall. The statue itself is 37 ft. tall and weighs 27 tons, it’s bronze and is the tallest statue on top of any building in the world. (You can google it.) But at 548 ft. high, fabulous, huge and important, it is but a blurry silhouette to geezers with glasses such as I.
And back when there were gentlemen’s agreements (meaning no lawyers involved) the agreement of the city’s fathers around Bill Penn’s statue was that no one could erect an edifice any higher than the rim of his hat. Weird, right?
But seriously, sculpting is very labor intensive, so what’s the point of working so hard and long on a great work of art and then sticking it atop a building so high the only beings who can actually see it clearly are pigeons and migrating geese?
And how did the workers back then get those statues up so high anyway? Did the sculptors carve them up there? Not likely. Did they haul them up on ropes piece by piece? Well, maybe, but up there where the air is rarified people could get a little light headed and there might be the risk of attaching a body part onto the wrong body part. Not good. I’ll have to read about this.
Call me silly, but if I’m going to work that hard and long over a great statue with a hammer and chisel, spilling lots of my blood and sweat, you can be sure when it’s done, it’ll be on display in an obvious place. And, most assuredly, at eye level. (See close up pic below.)