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Gutzon Borglum

AKA John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum

Born: 25-Mar-1867
Birthplace: St. Charles, ID
Died: 6-Mar-1941
Location of death: Chicago, IL
Cause of death: Complications of Surgery
Remains: Buried, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Sculptor
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Mount Rushmore

Gutzon Borglum, the artist and engineer who made the monument at Mount Rushmore, was the son of a Mormon polygamist's second wife. His father abandoned his mother while he was a boy, and as a man Borglum invented elaborate tales to eliminate the polygamy in his parentage.

He studied under Auguste Rodin, and opened a studio in New York in 1904. He earned widespread artistic recognition with a bronze sculpture of the Mares of Diodemes, a six-ton bust of Abraham Lincoln, and a series of sculptures in Manhattan's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where, in 1907, he smashed his angels in anger when church authorities complained that the females were too lustfully attractive. He was contracted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to carve an image of Confederate hero Robert E. Lee onto the face of Georgia's Stone Mountain, which he described as a "memorial to a movement", but after about two years of work on the project he was fired.

The Mount Rushmore project was proposed by historian Doane Robinson, but it was Borglum who decided that it should feature American Presidents instead of South Dakota historical figures. He began planning Mount Rushmore in 1925, and commenced work in 1927 using air powered jackhammers, dynamite, and a crew of hired drillers and carvers. Borglum himself was often absent on fundraising trips and working on other projects, but the design and complex methodology were all his.

The portrait of George Washington was unveiled on 4 July 1934, Thomas Jefferson on 30 August 1936, Lincoln on 17 September 1937, and Theodore Roosevelt on 2 July 1939, but the work continued under Borglum's plan to complete the Presidents' torsos. After his death in 1941, responsibility for completing the monument fell to his son, Lincoln Borglum. The younger sculptor worked for some months on the hair on Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt and did some touch-ups on Lincoln's collar before deciding that the mountain looked better without the Presidents' chests. He declared the monument finished, and work ended on 31 October 1941.

The cliffhanger ending of Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest was set on Mount Rushmore, but filmed entirely on a distant set, after permission to film on the mountain itself was denied.

Father: Jens Moller Haugaard Borglum ("James", physician, b. 1839, d. 29-Aug-1909)
Mother: Christina Mikklesen Borglum (b. circa 1847, m. 1865, sep. 1871)
Mother: Ida Mikklesen Borglum (father's concurrent wife, b. circa 1852, m. 27-Apr-1864)
Brother: James Moller Haugaard Borglum, Jr. (b. 10-Mar-1865, with Ida)
Brother: August Borglum (b. 27-Apr-1867, with Ida)
Brother: Solon Hannibal Borglum (artist, b. 22-Dec-1868, with Christina)
Brother: Arnold Borglum (b. 2-Jun-1869, with Ida)
Sister: Anna Borglum
Sister: Theodora Borglum
Brother: Frank Borglum (physician)
Sister: Harriet Borglum
Brother: Miller Borglum (b. Mar-1865)
Wife: Elizabeth Jaynes Putnam ("Lisa", artist, m. 10-Sep-1889, sep. 1901, div. 1909)
Wife: Mary Montgomery Williams (historian, b. 21-Nov-1874, affair 1902-09, m. 20-May-1909, d. 1955)
Son: Lincoln Borglum (artist, b. 9-Apr-1912, d. 27-Jan-1986)
Daughter: Mary Ellis Borglum Vhay (b. 25-Mar-1916, d. 11-Sep-2002)

    High School: Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, NE
    University: Mark Hopkins Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
    University: Académie Julian, Paris, France
    Teacher: Art Students League of New York

    Ku Klux Klan Member (1923-25)
    Royal Society
    Danish Ancestry


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