It's a Bust: Art Critic Blasts Chuck Berry's U. City Statue

Categories: Arts

Editor's Note: RFT's critic-at-large, Anton LaFontaine, weighs in on the unveiling today of the Chuck Berry statute in the Delmar Loop.

chuck berry statue 1.JPG
Photo: Kelly Hogan
Peek-a-boo, we see you!
​The point of commemorative statuary is not to further the fine art of sculpture -- and the bronze homage to St. Louis' native-son genius who penned "My Ding-A-Ling," indeed, does not do so. The point, rather is to immortalize a fellow traveler in an enduring material that would survive all but the unlikely prospect of a rogue thermonuclear device.

Indeed, Charles "Where's My Breakfast" Berry is a man worthy of such an honor. And a bronze statue of him is to be dedicated in University City this very morn.

We know. Political naysayers have quibbled about this or that felony, the video camera where it ought not have been, and other, shall we say, "proclivities." We reply that this is the originator of Rock and Fucking Roll! These are not things that detract from the accomplishments of Mr. Berry.  There are a plethora of statues of saints in the world. We need statues of sinners. And where better to start than that Sodom and Gomorrah of the St. Louis area, the Delmar Loop?

Alas, the men who craft such memorials do not stride amongst us like the Michelangelos, Donatellos, Rodins and Giacomettis of yore. No, they are merely workmanlike craftspeople whose three-dimensional output consistently exhibits shortcomings, which, while elevating the personage being portrayed, make the object itself fall well short in terms of capital-A Art. Any greatness emanates from he that is the subject matter, not from the execution thereof. Indeed, the Harry Weber-fashioned Delmar bronze has one duck-walking foot planted firmly in this pseudo-artistic camp. Many have already noted the the cast-metal countenance does not resemble the intended honoree so much as a deranged Andy of Mayberry. "Hah-rumpf," scoffs the connoisseur.

chuck berry statue 2.JPG
Kelly Hogan
​We would have theorized that when one has commissioned such an artistic endeavor, has made public proclamations to its grand importance, that one is blinded to the work's actual visual deficiencies. Not so with the intellectual Leviathans who benevolently lord over our area's boulevard of vice. No, their solution is as genius as the licks that emanate from Mr. Berry's guitar. "Encircle that damn thing with saplings!" was their command. And indeed it has been so surrounded, making the work unviewable at appropriate distance from certain strategic vantage points.

In the future, when these recently planted trees grow to full maturity, they will do double duty, providing much-needed shade to the dreadlocked wastrels sure to gather in a circle at the Great Chuck's alloyed feet, willing to accept small pecuniary donations for the inspired smack or two on an African drum before meandering onward to Portland or Boulder. Brilliant!

So brilliant in fact, we posed this query to ourselves: "How would other three-dimensional artistic expressions fare being exhibited thusly?" Several examples follow. You be the judge.

david.jpg
Michelangelo's immortal David, given the Chuck Berry treatment.

My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
Egolterman
Egolterman

Agreed to some extent. That is why in museums wecan stand 'way back' and stare with non-obstructed view, pretending we know what you are looking at. It took Charlie an ungodly amount of time to raise the money. He gets an A for persistence. Joe gets an A if the statute  brings people to St. Louis, who would otherwise not come here. I think it will, to some extent.At the same time we 'attend'  to a statue, Kansas City opens a $417 million downtown performing arts center in 48 days. Where are people going this Fall?

Oh
Oh

Not sure what your point was, but I thought I would remind you that St. Louis is (re)-opening their own downtown performing arts center this fall with the Kiel.

KITTY
KITTY

TRUTH BE KNOWN, FOR THE FEW WHO DON'T  LIKE THE STATUTE, THERE ARE THOUSANDS WHO DO. THIS IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF "BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER." CHUCK BERRY'S LEGENDARY STATUS IN ROCK AND ROLL OVERSHADOWS ANY NEGATIVITY ABOUT HIS PERSONAL AND LEGAL PROBLEMS.ST LOUIS SHOULD BE PROUD HE IS ONE OF US!

Jansi
Jansi

I understand what you are saying but I personally hold people up to higher standards.  He could play a guitar and that is worth acknowledging but to be proud he is one of us and immortalize his greatness,  I would have to look at the whole crappy picture and that would be no thanks.

Conrad
Conrad

Funny. Next time hold the onions, Chuck.

Mike N.
Mike N. like.author.displayName 1 Like

Oh man, I really wish I hadn't just googled Chuck Berry Breakfast ...

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...