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Manifest Destiny
March 28, 2006

Close-up of the Copley crater on Mercury

The Copely (sic) crater on Mercury. From the Center for Planetary Sciences.

This doesn't specifically concern American art—or even anything on the planet Earth—but of the craters on the planet Mercury named after important terrestrial cultural figures, only one American artist and one American architect are represented: respectively, John Singleton Copley (latitude: 38.4S, longitude: 85.2W) and Louis Sullivan (latitude: 16.9S, longitude: 86.3W). Sure, you might say that in terms of global cultural epochs (or cataclysmic events within our solar system, for that matter) the U.S. of A. hasn't been around for all that long. But with six craters named after French painters alone, France is clearly hogging the first planet from the sun. I say that the next time something smacks into Mercury, we've got dibs.

I don't know what sort of system (or queue, as they say in Old Europe) is in place for christening craters, but I've got two American figures lined up for naming rights: Alexander Calder, whose sculpture would look great on a low-atmosphere planet, and William Van Alen, whose name is nearly but not quite represented in space already. Or am I neglecting a better delegate from the United States whom we should send to Mercury?

Posted by Kriston on March 28, 2006 in American Art Everywhere


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