English Essay

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T RUTH AND BEAUTY at the INSTITUTE FOR A DVANCED STUDY Irving Lavin and Marilyn Aronberg Lavin On the cover: IAS Medal dedicated to Louis Bamberger, obverse and reverse, 1934 Photograph by Bruce M. White T RUTH AND B EAUTY at the I NSTITUTE FOR A DVANCED S TUDY Contents 3 4 Introduction Creating an Image of the Institute: Seal, Medal, Bookplate Marilyn Aronberg Lavin Truth and Beauty at the Institute for Advanced Study Irving Lavin 14 30 Appendix A: Images related to motifs on the medal (Marilyn Aronberg Lavin) 35 Appendix B: Documents cited in the text 48 Notes 58 List of Illustrations 61 Bibliography Fig. 1 IAS Medal, obverse Introduction Almost as soon as I arrived at the Institute in 1974 and saw the official seal, I was intrigued by the poetic beauty and formal simplicity of this eminently pictorial image, quite unlike the abstract epigraphic tradition of academic heraldry. In a circular format, the quiet, elegant, and classical Art Deco composition depicts two graceful young women, one nude and one clothed, standing on opposite sides of a leafy tree that bears abundant fruit (Fig. 1). Their poses are complementary, one looking out toward the spectator, the other looking down, avoiding eye contact. The figures are named in large letters sans serif, TRUTH to the left, BEAUTY on the right. Truth holds a mirror that overlaps the circular frame to reflect reality. On the exergue, at the bottom of the circle, in smaller letters, is the artist’s signature, P . TURIN. What struck me most was the extraordinary intellectual acumen that underlay the evident allusion, in both the conceit and the design of the emblem—conveying the essence of the mission of the Institute for Advanced Study—to the famous final couplet of John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn. With a mind to study the genesis and significance ” of this remarkable image,

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