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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Television Art

Next week is Thanksgiving, but on Monday, November 21 we give thanks to the TV! The United Nations declared World Television Day back in 1996. Since I’m at work and I don’t have a TV on hand to celebrate, I thought I’d share some artwork symbolizing this communication technology. 

Sculptor Friedlander standing on the unfinished RCA building marquee under his Television relief sculptures, ca. 1934

In this Peter A. Juley & Son photo, sculptor Leo Friedlander (1890-1966) stands with a boy on the unfinished iconic marquee of the RCA Building (now GE Building) at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Above them at 15 ft. tall and 10 ft. wide are Friedlander’s Television sculpture reliefs. The group on the left, called Production, depict a female figure dancing while another figure films her movement. On the right side of the marquee, Reception receives this transmission of the dancing girl and displays it in her hands for the audience (or viewers) represented by mother and child figures.

Leo Friedlander standing in front of a scale model of Television
Commissioned to design the sculpture relief (and its sister relief Radio) in 1933, Friedlander created these stone carvings when television itself was still in its infancy. This was long before TV was broadcast 24 hours a day and there were thousands of channels and shows to choose from to get information or entertainment. Friedlander’s reliefs remind me of that simple concept of transmitting images in order to bring people and ideas together.

Check out other television related items through the Smithsonian Collections Search.  Have a good World Television Day! 

Emily Moazami, Photograph Archivist, Research & Scholars Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum

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