Victory Ball Audio Guide

Anita Weschler

American, 1914–2001

Victory Ball

Cast stone
24 × 41 × 23 1/2 inches

Photography not permitted
Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Morris and Rose Rochman Gift, 1982

Location: Bass Concert Hall Lobby, Sixth Floor
GPS: 30.285811,-97.731171
Audio file

Valerie Fletcher: Unlike Deborah Butterfield [and] Louise Bourgeois, Anita Weschler is not very well known. She worked in a very modest way in New York. She was inspired largely by her teacher, William Zorach in the 1930s. Zorach was one of the founding fathers of the direct carve and primitivist movements in American sculpture and this is evident in Anita Weschler’s work. The sculpture here is called Victory Ball from 1951, approximately the same year as Frederick Kiesler’s Winged Victory. Weschler’s sculpture like Kiesler’s refers to the experience of having come through World War II.

Weschler herself had a very quiet war and she did among her more stylized carving, she also supported herself through fairly traditional realistic portraiture in the manner of Rodin. However, her true love was the simplified forms of early modernism that is taking forms, like the human body. Here in Victory Ball, we have several figures celebrating and dancing in joy at the end of World War II. But they are not realistic nor are they completely abstract. Rather, they occupy that wonderful medium ground where you can recognize them as figures; and yet, they have the streamlined contours and the simplified forms that we associate with modern art, with modern architecture and modern design. So in her work, Weschler liked to represent groups of figures. She felt that the dynamism and energy of figures was far more expressive than a single or even a double-figure composition.

In this one, you can see that there is one figure reaching up high in celebration. This is a reference to that period of joy that marked the end of World War II. From the initial celebrations in places like Times Square when the surrender of Germany was announced, to the subsequent celebrations that took years every 4th of July, every Armistice Day in the years following World War II. She had done anti-war and militaristic themes before and during the war. So the Victory Ball has relevance today, that idea of delight and hope and joy at the end of a terrible war.