Man Helping Man: An Iconic ACC Sculpture Turns 40
By John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, past president of the ACC and chair of ACC's History Work Group.
The sculpture hundreds of ACC members, staff, leaders, business partners and visitors have walked past upon entering Heart House turns 40 this year, as 2016 marks four decades since the creation of "Man Helping Man." And while many have noticed the sculpture, few know its history or meaning.
The "Man Helping Man" sculpture was graciously donated by ACC Past President (1978–1979) Leonard S. Dreifus, MD, MACC, and his wife Seline Dreifus in 1979, and it was originally installed at the Bethesda Heart House. The sculpture was transferred to Heart House DC in time for the dedication ceremony of the new headquarters on Sept. 17, 2006, which was followed by a black tie gala dinner that welcomed ACC's Board of Governors, Board of Trustees and many past ACC leaders and dignitaries.
Dr. and Mrs. Dreifus sought to create a lasting physical image for the ACC and they found the connection in an unusual — or perhaps not so unusual place. The noted artist, the late Harold Kimmelman, was at the time a patient of Dr. Dreifus with more than 30 public metal sculptures in and around Philadelphia, and in many private collections around the world. Dr. and Mrs. Dreifus purchased the study for this sculpture, which was created in 1976, and thought it to be a fitting symbol to symbolize the mission of the ACC. The architect of the Bethesda Heart House loved the idea and Dr. and Mrs. Dreifus donated the funds for the creation of the larger "Man Helping Man" sculpture, which was formally installed in 1979.
In "Man Helping Man," two boys are scaling an enormous tree trunk. Helping each other, they represent the youth and vitality of the humanitarian spirit. The tree trunk suggests a challenge or obstacle that mankind strives to overcome. The model for the boy atop the tree trunk is Jonathan Kimmelman, Harold Kimmelman's younger son. Kimmelman noted that the work "celebrates mankind's upward climb, overcoming obstacles and providing a better quality of life. The use of abstract and realistic elements symbolizes the union of intellect and emotion." The sculpture is crafted from bronze, stainless steel and granite and is 192" tall by 50" wide and is 42" deep. Kimmelman characterized his sculptures as follows:
"I strive to portray a spirit and an energy flux in sculpture. I work with metal. Transforming it from a static, heavy mass to an animated presence pulsing with energy, alive with movement. I sculpt recognizable forms designed in a contemporary language. I usually prefer to work directly with metal developing shapes by heat and pressure, tension and compression. Tool marks and welds are revealed (as brush strokes in a painting) only when they add to the aesthetics of the sculpture, otherwise my tendency is to polish to a mirror like finish. This way of working preserves the metal's intrinsic properties unlike casting which replicates a clay or wax preliminary model."
A new base had to be created for the Washington, DC installation and it was quite a dramatic effort transporting the sculpture from the Bethesda Heart House location to its new home in 2006.
As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Heart House DC, it is important that we acknowledge the inspiration of Seline and Leonard Dreifus in taking "Man Helping Man" from vision to reality.
Forty years after the creation of "Man Helping Man," this sculpture sits outside of Heart House DC, welcoming visitors and staff every day. The sculpture has become an iconic image of the ACC that epitomizes the College's mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. This vision of Leonard and Seline Dreifus will continue to inspire the public and profession for years to come.
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