I decided to dig out some model ideas I had stored away in a folder, and as I went through the photos I came upon a couple which I wanted to do a couple of years ago but didn’t pursue. The photos were of the 1927 Chanin building and I decided to look for more information on the building last night.
I learned there are 8 panels in the 2 lobbies, of which I very much liked 3 panels, here is a picture of one of them.
I like what I call the “Atlas” look, or as some articles refer to these as; “hyper-masculine” style of these kinds of figures done in that 1920-1930’s era.
The building cost $14 million in 1927 to construct, and the entire 57 story high skyscraper was erected in just 205 days!
Irwin Chanin was an architect and real estate developer who had visited Paris in 1925, taking in the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. He was so inspired by what he saw, that when he returned that he set out to incorporate these designs in his current projects. Not yet a registered architect, he worked with the firm of Sloan and Robertson to build this building.
The original artist for the works on the building was none other than the sculptor Rene Chambellain- who if eagle-eyed readers may remember from elsewhere on this site- Rene designed the set of 5 historic charter seals of the City of New York for the old West Side (Miller) highway.
Each of the Chanin plaques had a theme-title which depicted the following in an Art Deco, cubist design;
Physical life: “Endurance” “Activity” “Effort” “Success”
Mental life: “Enlightenment” “Vision” “Courage” “Achievement”
Not all of the panels have been associated with their titles that I have found yet, 3 have been, the rest are up for interpretation. That means the design above either represents “Activity” “Effort” or “Success,” and in looking over the photos of the 3 in that set, I get the feeling this panel is the one titled “Success” as the other 2 seem to lean more towards “activity” and “effort”, while this one has a confident stride which suggests some task has been accomplished.
A few articles which mention these panels have said incorrectly they are bronze, actually photos I have seen around show at least one has some cracks in it, broze does not crack that way, they are beyond doubt plaster of paris which has been painted gold, though originally they may have been gilded, the gold may have peeled a little or became dirty, and over the years the lobbies would have been repainted, and I’m certain at that time these panels were painted with gold paint to give them a renewed appearance.
I decided on the size for the panel, which will start out at about 18″ X 24″, which after the clay has shrunk on the master model will probably wind up around 16″ X 21-1/2″ or so, a nice size without being too large or heavy.
More can read about the designs and Mr Chambellain as well;
Now that I have the proper sized form to contain the clay, I have about 85# of clay packed in the box, smoothed flat, and ready to begin work.