Gutzon Borglum

born Bear Lake, ID 1867-died Chicago, IL 1941
Also known as
  • John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum
  • John Gutzon Borglum
Bear Lake, Idaho, United States
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Active in
  • New York, New York, United States
  • American

Gutzon Borglum was known in the early twentieth-century art world as much for his fiery personality as for his monumental sculptures, including the carved portraits at Mount Rushmore. Born into a Mormon family that practiced plural marriage, Borglum began his career as an engraver for an Omaha newspaper. He later moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a printmaker and fresco painter. After studying in Paris, Borglum moved to New York City to launch his career as a sculptor. Over the next forty years he created the monumental head of Lincoln in the Capitol Rotunda, General Sheridan on horseback in Washington’s Sheridan Circle, and other portraits of artists, politicians, and military men. Throughout his career he stirred up controversy because of the high standards he set for himself and for American art. On a trip to Washington two years before his death, he was asked whether American art was on an “upswing” and he replied, “it is bound to be . . . it has hit rock bottom.”