The Moods of Time Night Thread

Tonight’s thread is dedicated to Moods of Time, a group of four sculptures created around 1938 by Paul Manship (1885-1966), one of the major artists of the Art Deco movement. His work is typified by a flowing, linear style that was heavily influenced by ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Assyrian art, and he often created mythologically inspired pieces. He is best known for his large, public sculptures, the most famous of which is the Prometheus statue at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

In 1936, Manship was commissioned to create Moods of Time for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. These statues, which were executed in staff, a plaster of Paris compound, have not survived. However, bronze models for these sculptures are now in private collections and in various American art museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

Sketches for Moods of Time (circa 1938), in the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Each of Manship’s four classically influenced sculptures, Evening, Night, Morning, and Day, depicts a celestial figure that represents one phase of the daily cycle and also embodies a mood characterizing that phase. John Manship, the artist’s son, opined that these sculptures summed up his father’s obsession with time and ideas regarding the function of art; he stated, “He believed that a major purpose of art, especially art in the classical tradition, was to reconcile the passage of time with permanence.” In addition, one might see in Moods of Time, an almost synesthetic association of personalities and emotions with abstract concepts.

Evening depicts a calm moment that Manship described as, “that time of inactivity before the movement of night begins…” She is shown falling asleep, covered by the shadows of somnolence and surrounded by nocturnal owls.

Evening (circa 1938), in the Detroit Institute of Arts

Night evokes the tranquility of the dark hours. She sails above the clouds and through the sky, leaving the waning, crescent moon in her wake; she is accompanied by two small, male figures representing the reaches of space.

Night (circa 1938), in the collection of James Halperin

Morning yawns and stretches lazily as he is awakened by his more ambitious, active helpers, a rooster, a trumpeter, and a small figure pulling the cover of night from his body.

Morning (circa 1938), in the collection of James Halperin

Day carries the sun in his outstretched hands and races forward, the two galloping horses at his feet mirroring his energetic pace.

Day (circa 1938), in the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Have a great night, whether personified or not, and have fun posting.