Every monument and every large project of any type has its stories to tell. In the case of Mount Rushmore, a mammoth undertaking 14 years in the making, there are many stories. One little known story, however, is how the project brought together a renowned, French-trained, American sculptor and an unknown, but very talented Italian immigrant whose hand refined and nuanced the image we see today.
Mount Rushmore, along with the many works of art that depict America, stands out as a symbol of the first 150 years of a new nation. John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum masterminded the massive carved likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. These former United States Presidents look down on the visitor’s center of the Mount Rushmore National
Born in St. Charles, Idaho on March 25, 1867 to an immigrant Danish woodcarver, Borglum later in life studied art and sculpture in Paris, France. During his stay in France, he met Auguste Rodin, the creator of works such as The Thinker, and was influenced by Rodin’s talent. Returning to New York City, ...
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...oblems that arose during the sculpting was Jefferson’s nose, which revealed a large crack in the stone. However, with Bianco’s expertise, the face was shifted, placing the crack on Jefferson’s lip. The lip was then filled in with granite and pinned in place, thus making the repair barely noticeable. Bianco also put his deft touch on Lincoln’s eyes.
More of the Story
A little known fact about Borglum’s lifestyle is that he was a racist. It is reported that he was even a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). It is interesting that with a racist worldview, that he chose Abraham Lincoln to be one of the subjects of his “mountain sculpture. Borglum chose the presidents himself, convincing South Dakota from using Sioux Indian Chief Red Cloud and scout Kit Carson, among others. Despite his earlier racist comments, the artist admired Lincoln and even named his son after him.
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