Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidential Artz

Today is Presidents Day. It is a Federal Holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February.  It was first celebrated in honor of our first President George Washington. Later it was moved to fall between President Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays.  In 1971 it was moved to Monday as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

We shall look at how a few artists captured a president this week. Shall we start with a very large sculpture by John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum?

Gutzon Borglum as most of us may know him.

He was a painter whose portrait of General John C. Fremont led him to his first patron, General Fremont’s wife who introduced Borglum to Theodore Roosevelt. 

While living in Paris he studied at École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian and held several very successful exhibits. It was here that he was influenced by Auguste Rodin and abandoned painting for sculpture.  His sculpture Mares of Diomedes was a gold medal winner at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition and brought him much notoriety.  He created a bust of Lincoln that President Roosevelt displayed in the White House.

This sculpture inspired the Daughters of the Confederacy and they invited him to carve a bust of Robert E. Lee into Stone Mountain. He wanted to carve in Stonewall Jackson on a horse, Jefferson Davis and a row of soldiers. Borglum was released from the job over a political statement and his original work did not survive the artist who replaced him.  

But in came a historian from South Dakota and offered him a job he could not refuse.  He moved to Keystone South Dakota at the age of 60 and in 1927 began carving Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt into Mt. Rushmore.

 Borglum died at the age of 74 in 1941 from complications of surgery and never got to see the finished work. 

Enjoy some Presidential art with us this week.

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