Skip to comments.Idaho group honors Borglum, sculptor and Klansman
Posted on 07/05/2010 11:21:50 AM PDT by Utah Binger
A private group that drew attention in 2007 by naming U.S. Sen. Larry Craig to its Idahos Hall of Fame amid furor over his sex-sting arrest has elevated Mount Rushmore sculptor and Ku Klux Klan member Gutzon Borglum to its 2010 class of honorees.
Borglum, born in Idaho Territory in 1867, chiseled heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt into South Dakotas Black Hills.
In the 1920s, he was also in the Klan.
Recently, America has been debating the ambiguous legacy of another ex-Klansman, U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who died Monday.
Some historians speculate Borglum joined the KKK to secure cash for a Confederate monument at Georgias Stone Mountain. Others say he was an anti-Semitic prairie populist who hoped to advance his political aspirations.
Born in Bear Lake, Idaho in a log house, Gutzon Borglum is best known as the large-scale portrait sculptor of the heads of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. This project on which he worked, 1927 to 1941, cost the United States Government $989,000.00 and was called “sculpture with dynamite” (Samuels 58) because he blasted stone within inches of the final carving. The last day of work on the presidential heads was October 31, 1941, shortly after Borglum’s death the preceding March and just before the United States entered World War II.
On the Mount Rushmore project, the nose of President Washington is 20 feet long, and the overall height of the figures is about 60 feet. Borglum’s son, Lincoln, oversaw the final touches and clean up of the project.
Early in his career, Borglum was a painter whose specialty was western subjects with cowboys, Indians and animals, reflective of his life in the early West. He was the son of an immigrant Danish woodcarver* whose polygamous marriage to sisters resulted in the birth of Gutzon and his sculptor brother, Solon. When the boys were young, the father ceased to practice Mormonism and became a doctor, setting up practice in Omaha and later Fremont, Nebraska. He then lived only with his first wife. Her sister and the mother of Solon and Gutzon left the family circle and never appeared again in their lives.
Gutzon attended public schools in Omaha and Fremont, Nebraska, and St. Mary College, a Jesuit School in Xavier, Kansas. He apprenticed to a lithographer in Los Angeles, where he moved with his family when he was age 17, and he also worked for a fresco painter and lithographer.
In the mid 1880s, he studied painting at the California School of Design* with Virgil Williams, William Keith, and artist Elizabeth Janes Putnam, whom he married and then divorced in 1908. The sale of some of his paintings for several thousand dollars allowed him to study at the Julian Academy and the Ecole des Beaux Arts* in Paris. He began there as a painter but changed to sculpture, and he exhibited both mediums with western themes at the Paris Salons* in the 1890s and earned much acclaim. He was regarded as a disciple of sculptor Auguste Rodin, whose work he greatly admired.
From 1895 to 1901, Gutzon Borglum gained prominence in London with his portraits as well as murals, illustrations and sculpture. He did sketches of the Boer War for the Illustrated London News and then returned permanently to the United States.
In 1902, he opened a studio in New York City, and one of his first completed projects was his white stone bust of Abraham Lincoln that was placed in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. He taught at the Art Students League* from 1906 to 1907, and was one of the founders of the American Association of Painters and Sculptors that organized the 1913 Armory Show*. This exhibition was a landmark in American art because it brought to the United States, for the first time, modernist work that reflected radical movements in Europe.
Borglum also had studios in Raleigh, North Carolina, and San Antonio, Texas, where in 1925, he executed a bronze monument for the Old Trail Drivers Association. It was eventually placed at the Rangers Museum, adjoining the Witte Memorial Museum. His studio that he had remodeled for a considerable sum became the Museum Art School when Borglum left in 1937 with disappointment that he had not received a commission for the Texas Centennial. However, he continued to maintain a residence in San Antonio, and working from there, he created many works including statues of General John Campbell of Arizona, the poet Sidney Lanier, President Woodrow Wilson, and the models for his Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Borglum died in Chicago on March 6, 1941, while on a speaking tour, and was buried in the Court of Honor at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California. In 1972, the Smithsonian Institution held a large exhibition of his work.
Bio courtesy Edan Hughes
Thanks for the ping
**In the 1920s, he was also in the Klan. ***
In the 1920s lots of people were in the klan, enough to have a parade in Washington DC.
That is right. You will notice that I posted his biography in which my friend in San Francisco, Edan Hughes, makes no mention of that.
I have one of his t-shirts!
I was wondering which sculptor we can get to sculpt the One’s image on Mt. Rushmore? Is there room for another image, or must we erase one of the images? If so which one? Perhaps it would be better to find another site so he wouldn’t have to share the Glory. Also we can leave room for our next Pres Michelle. Something to think about for 16 long years.
If I recall correctly, the first Million Man March was in 1924: a KKK parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.
***I was wondering which sculptor we can get to sculpt the Ones image on Mt. Rushmore? ***
How about moving it to the back end of Crazy Horse’s horse!
^ Borglum was a child of polygamy. His father had two wives when he lived in Idaho — Borglum’s birth mother and his mother’s sister. His father decided he didn’t want to be a Mormon any more and decided to go back to Omaha where polygamy was taboo. It was decided that Gutzon’s mother would be discarded from the family and never spoken of again. From the Borglum biography in PBS’s American Experience. WIKI
So she has NO ONE to call her forth from the GRAVE??
Well they’re honoring Sheets Byrd, so what’s wrong with honoring another Klansman?
My reference was Edan Hughes not wiki my darling.
Newspapers sometimes stretch the truth. We know about Byrd.
so what difference does it makes?
Was not discussing polygamy, Mormonism or Wiki. My interest in Borglum is the art.
If you have anything to say about fine art in America, we want to hear it and discuss those topics. As to the KKK, I couldn’t care less.
Are you an art expert too?
Wow, does it have the proper markings or is it post apostasy? Resty might want to see it.
Sorry miss understood and I was surprized at the titled which seem to want to detract from his talent.
Two years ago we went to Christmas services at the Lutheran church there and saw this magnificent piece in person. When I lived in Copenhagen in 1961-63, I was astounded at the power of great sculpture in Denmark. That is why so many BYU art students go there to study sculpture.
Read down about 1/3 of the way under NEW NAMES. You'll find the answer...
On a SOCCER scholarship?
Thorvaldsen was a truly great artist. I believe he is only unknown because he was Danish, not Italian.
O’course, I’m kinda partial to Borglum ‘cause of Mount Rushmore. It’s a SoDakian thing, dontcha know...