Theme/Style Modernism, Figurative Art, Native American and Southwestern subjects
Media Sculpture, oils,
Artistic Focus A prolific
sculptor and recorder of American history, Merrell Gage created work
that was universally recognized for its honesty and its perfection of
craftsmanship. His private-commission sculptures are figurative works
that illustrate the artist’s quest to capture the essence of his subjects.
• Robert Merrell Gage was born in Topeka, Kansas,
in 1892 and worked on ranches in the Midwest before embarking on a career
in art, studying in New York City at the Art Students League, the Robert
Henri School, and the Beaux Arts Institute of Design.
• Between 1914 and 1916 (and again during 1921-1923) Gage apprenticed
to Gutzon Borglum, and assisted in the designs for the Stone Mountain
• Gage taught sculpture in Kansas before moving to Los Angeles in 1923.
• Gage exhibited widely from the 1920s through the 1950s at, among many
other venues, the Pan-Pacific International Exposition in Long Beach
in 1929 (receiving a gold medal); the California-Pacific International
Exposition in San Diego in 1935; and the Golden Gate International Exposition
in San Francisco in 1939; as well as solo shows at the Los Angeles County
and Santa Barbara Museums in 1945, the Metropolitan Museum in New York
in 1946, and the University of Southern California in 1959.
• Throughout his life as an artist, Gage was also an instructor, teaching
at Chouinard Art School, and spending 33 years on the faculty of the
University of Southern California.
• Among Gage’s best-known works are his monumental study, Lincoln
the Student; the Lincoln Memorial at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka;
bas-relief works at the Southern California Edison and Times-Mirror buildings
in Los Angeles; and other works in the Los Angeles area.
• “Face of Lincoln,” a film featuring Gage’s work, received
an Oscar in 1955 as the year’s best short subject. Merrell Gage passed
away in Laguna Beach, California, in 1981.
Additional biographical material and full bibliographic
references are available upon request.
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