NJAM – Paul Matisse – DBA


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Paul Matisse, artist 

Sculpture: 6 meters long, 8″ outside diameter
Washington, DC



Paul Matisse is a world renowned artist and inventor, especially known for his interactive art installations.  He spent three years designing the bell for the memorial perfecting its tone. Buckley and Matisse collaborated extensively on the design, placement, and ideological meaning of the bell within the story told by the National Japanese American Memorial.  They later worked together on the installation of the Olympic Bell for the Athens 2004 Olympics.

Buckley conceived of a simple spiral plan for the National Japanese American Memorial that involves visitors in an experience of confinement and release.  At the end of the memorial is Paul Matisse’s bell – an 18 foot long hollow aluminum tube held by two massive bronze arms anchored in the curving granite walls.  The bell can be rung by any visitor by means of pushing a waist-high bronze lever that activates the hammer.  When struck, a low, solemn tone is released which fads in a long decline which Matisse says, is “the natural way of things, a falling away of the grief.”

The National Japanese American Memorial is designed to commemorate the patriotism of Japanese Americans during World War II.  When he signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, President Ronald W. Reagan stated, “Here we admit a wrong.  Here we affirm our commitment to equal justice under the law.”  This statement, meant as an apology to all those who suffered civil liberties injustices, is a key part of the ideological fabric of this memorial.



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