Suzanne Hinman’s new book The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York (Syracuse University Press, 2019) looks back to November 1891, the heart of Gilded Age Manhattan.
Thousands filled the streets surrounding Madison Square, when after countless struggles, Stanford White – the country’s most celebrated architect was about to dedicate America’s tallest tower, the final cap set atop his Madison Square Garden, the country’s grandest new palace of pleasure. Amid a flood of electric light and fireworks, the gilded figure topping the tower was suddenly revealed – an eighteen-foot nude sculpture of Diana, the Roman Virgin Goddess of the Hunt, created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, White’s pal.
The Grandest Madison Square Garden tells the remarkable story behind the construction of the second, 1890, Madison Square Garden and the controversial sculpture that crowned it. Set amid the magnificent achievements of nineteenth-century American art and architecture, the book delves into the private lives of one of the era’s most prominent architects and sculptors and the nature of their intimate relationship.
Hinman shows how both men pushed the boundaries of America’s parochial aesthetic, ushering in an era of art that embraced European styles with American vitality. Situating the Garden’s place in the history of New York City, as well as the entire country, The Grandest Madison Square Garden brings to life a tale of architecture, art, and spectacle amid the elegant yet scandal-ridden culture of the era.
Suzanne Hinman holds a Ph.D. in American art history and has been a curator, gallerist, museum director, professor, and an art model. She owned an art gallery in Santa Fe and then served as director of galleries at the Savannah College of Art and Design, the world’s largest art school. Her interest in the artists and architects of the American Gilded Age and the famed Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire grew while associate director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. The author continues to reside near Cornish as an independent scholar.
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