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Walker Hancock Portrait

Walker Hancock

Also Known as: Walker Kirtland Hancock, Walker K. Hancock

Born:
St. Louis, Missouri 1901

Died:
Gloucester, Massachusetts 1998

Active in:

  • Gloucester, Massachusetts
  • New York

Photo Caption:
Walter Hancock, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0119894

Luce Artist Biography

Walker Hancock knew from a very young age that he wanted to be an artist. One of his teachers told him, however, that he should be “intelligent enough to realize that you could never make a living as a sculptor.” Hancock ignored this and went on to study at the School of Fine Arts at Washington University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He built a studio in Lanesville, Massachusetts, on the site of an unused quarry that was a popular swimming hole for the locals. The visiting swimmers were ideal models for Hancock, and he created many sculptures of athletes in different poses. During World War II, he led the effort to identify and rescue art that had been looted by the Nazis. He created many monumental statues, including a thirty-nine-foot bronze angel for the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. In 1989 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a National Medal of Arts for his lifetime achievement in sculpture. Hancock was also a commissioner for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.