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David Ostro's Link: A Contemporary Monument of Abraham Lincoln

David Avi Ostro

Jun 2009

Original Post

Posted on:
November 22, 2009
Link, an innovative new sculpture of Abraham Lincoln by NYC artist David Ostro serves as the commissioned centerpiece for Lincoln Landing, a new park erected in celebration of the bicentennial of the President?s birth. Link represents a creative departure from the usual monuments of the 16th president. Renowned American Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley provided the keynote address at the dedication, stating: David Ostro?s Lincoln Landing sculpture manages to be both realistic and abstract. An elegant accomplishment." Ostro's Link pioneers a place for historical monuments in the world of contemporary art. Unlike the 200 or more existing statues in the U.S which showcase the former President in formal propriety, the life-size bronze at Lincoln Landing offers a surprising change from the usual expectations. Historian and preservationist Vince Michaels describes Link as: ??a bold attempt at portraying the multitudinous Lincoln in three different figures, at once a return to the narrative in sculpture within a modern matrix of sensibilities; an organic cubism that represents the different aspects together within a realistic model.? The artwork depicts Lincoln as a young Illinois legislator on his visit through Lockport in not one, but three interlocking poses. The work is installed on a reconstitution of the old I &M Canal wall. The base of the statue captures a seated Lincoln dangling his legs off the edge of the wall, reaching a hand into the depths of what was once canal water, though now only earth remains. A second figure draws out of this seated form, pushing upwards, contemplating a discovered object closed in hand. With the third figure, Lincoln finally stands. Determined to gain his balance on the landing, he tears upwards and outwards from his former selves and pockets the mysterious object. Infusing life into the image of Lincoln has been a challenge since the death of the President, as visual reference materials were severely limited to daguerreotype photographs. They required over a minute of posed stillness to capture a single image ? a process which Lincoln reportedly loathed. While these archival portraits provide documentation of the president?s features, they offered nothing in the way of the mercurial moods and complex temperament attributed to the President, a man one moment homely and melancholy, the next exuberant and handsome. The stoic faces on the penny or the $5 bill attest to the two-dimensional legacy Lincoln has maintained in popular iconography. However, it was precisely these representational limitations that inspired David Ostro?s untraditional approach. The artist explains his work was ?to do what the photograph could not; to physically weave his form through the fabric of Lockport and the I&M Canal through motion. To simultaneously explore the multiplicity of his character along with the continual reinvention of his historical legacy. By placing emphasis on the space in between the Lincoln forms and between the walls of the dried up canal, I hope to resurrect the life of a man and of a canal which helped shape the face of the United States.? Designated by the Federal Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission as an officially endorsed historic site, Lincoln Landing is also the recipient of the ILASLA (Illinois American Society of Landscape Architects) Merit Award. The park preserves the land that Lincoln authorized as the first landing dock for the I&M Canal (Illinois and Michigan Canal). This vital waterway spurred the growth of Lockport, the state of Illinois, as well as the commercial and industrial expansion of the US. Today, Lincoln Landing serves as a vehicle to educate visitors about the historical connection between Lincoln, the I&M Canal, and the City of Lockport. David Ostro was born in New Brunswick, NJ in 1984. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College in 2006. He lives in Brooklyn and works in sculpture, painting, printmaking and video. This is his first major commission. Presently, he is involved in a second commission through the National Department of Parks. ##### For more information or photos, please visit & or contact

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