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The Who Meets Piccirilli

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

The Who by Art Kane.  Life Magazine in June 1968.
The Who by Art Kane | Life Magazine, 1968

Notes for a Documentary Film

In recent months, I have encountered and documented several of Piccirilli’s works at the crossroads of pop culture. The Lincoln Memorial, for instance, has been featured in dozens of Hollywood movies, too many to list in this brief post. Although the most relevant eight are mentioned further as a footnote. But that did not impress me, or probably anyone else; after all, the Lincoln Memorial is among the most celebrated monuments in the world. I was also recently surprised to see Europe, the allegorical figure by Daniel Chester French at the US Customs House, as a backdrop to “Impractical Jokers,” a silly comedy show watched by millions on television. But, again, that didn’t sweep me off my feet in part because I wouldn’t say I like the show and in part because the role played by Piccirilli on that monument was limited to the execution of a model by Daniel Chester French. But what caught me in the interaction between Piccirilli and The Who in a reference shared with me today by Jonathan Kuhn, Director of Art & Antiquities of the City of New York, in which he mentioned an article published in Life Magazine in 1968.

The Who Meets Piccirilli

The reference by Jonathan Kuhn pointed to the exedra where The Who Meets Piccirilli in The Carl Schurz Memorial, Morningside Drive at 116th Street, which served as the backdrop to a priceless portrait of The Who by Art Kane. The image including the Piccirilli exedra became an iconic reference to the 1960s, was published along with “The New Rock” by Robin Richman in Life Magazine in June 1968.

The Carl Schurz Memorial was designed by Karl Bitter (1867–1915) and architect Henry Bacon (1866–1924). Piccirilli did all the relief panels on grey granite. I have not been able to determine if the exedra motif was entirely plotted by Bitter beforehand or if Piccirilli contributed to the design. In either case, Hellen Henderson described the exedra as “astonishing” reliefs and concluded that up to that point.

Hollywood Movies Featuring the Lincoln Memorial

Including the Seated Lincoln by Piccirilli, and the ornaments and decorations by Evelyn Longman.

1. Forrest Gump (1994): This movie features a scene where Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) gives a speech at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting on his life and experiences.

2. X-Men: First Class (2011): The Lincoln Memorial is featured in a scene where Magneto (Michael Fassbender) lifts a submarine out of the water.

3. Deep Impact (1998): The Lincoln Memorial is shown in a scene where the President of the United States delivers a speech to the nation.

4. The Firm (1993): The Lincoln Memorial is featured in a scene where Tom Cruise’s character meets with an informant.

5. Election (1999): The Lincoln Memorial is shown in a scene where Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) and Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) have a conversation.

6. National Treasure (2004): The Lincoln Memorial is featured in a scene where Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) and his team search for clues to find treasure.

7. Wedding Crashers (2005): The Lincoln Memorial is shown in a scene where John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams) have a conversation.

8. Hair (1979): The Lincoln Memorial is featured in a scene where George Berger (Treat Williams) sings “Where Do I Go?”.

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